NEW DELHI: Congress has conveyed to Rashtriya Janata Dal that it should wind up seat-sharing negotiations within next few days and respect Congress’s choice of constituencies, with senior members saying that failure to pay heed may even result in a break-up ahead of Bihar elections.
While the Congress-RJD alliance has all along appeared firm and Congress even ready to project Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial face, sources said that the party wants a ch-ange in the terms of negotiations that have been established over decades between the two partners.
Congress is learned to have given a list of 75 constituencies to RJD with the wish that it should be considered as its tally. While the numbers are an issue, it is the specific seats demanded by Congress that is prolonging the negotiations.
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Some of the seats demanded by Congress are the ones that have a strong RJD base and are high on winnability quotient. The Yadav outfit appears reluctant to part with those seats. Congress feels that if it cannot benefit from the support base of RJD, then the alliance is not sincere.
“The dragging of negotiations to the last minute, which forces Congress to accept less than acceptable terms, has been happening for very long. This time we are serious that this style has to change and RJD should accommodate our demands,” a senior Congress functionary said, adding that “if our demand is not accepted, we can go our way and forge a separate alliance.”
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Sources said September-end is the deadline set by Congress for winding up negotiations with RJD.
Top Congress functionaries said that the party is keeping all its options open with a plan B. “We have started talks with NCP, Yashwant Sinha, VIP and RLSP. We have to be ready with an alternative, “ a senior AICC member said. Congress believes that if it breaks with RJD then VIP and RLSP of Upendra Kushwaha will also not leave the alliance since Kushwaha’s objection is to Tejashwi Yadav’s projection.
What is interesting is that while Congress and RJD both are trying hard to finalise the deal, the two partners have still not made a joint public statement to sound the bugle for the election in which they would be taking on the ruling combine of JD(U)-BJP.