LESS than a year after making waves with a better-than-expected performance in Bihar Assembly polls, the Opposition Grand Alliance finds itself on the brink of collapse. The five-party Opposition coalition had won just 10 seats short of majority, a major comeback since the Lok Sabha polls of 2019 when the NDA had made a clean sweep, winning all but one of 40 seats in Bihar. However, on Friday AICC in-charge of the State, Bhakt Charan Das, stated the Congress will contest “all 40 seats” in the State, stunning Lalu Prasad’s RJD which stands accused by the junior partner of having betrayed the coalition ‘dharma’. State RJD president Jagadanand Singh reacted with disbelief. “When the general elections are due in 2024, what is the point in talking about Lok Sabha polls now,” he asked.
Das was also asked whether he was expressing a personal sentiment or echoing the views of the party “high command”, since Prasad is known to share excellent personal equations with the Gandhi family. “I do not wish to be drawn into a controversy by being too explicit. But please understand that an AICC in-charge cannot say anything that is at variance with the official party line,” Das told PTI. The flashpoint was reached over what seems to be a trifle. By-polls are due next week in two Assembly segments – Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan. The RJD announced its candidates for both seats without taking into confidence the Congress. After a few days of stunned silence, the Congress hit back, announcing its own candidates for the two seats.