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1-min read

After Sweeping Heartland, Rahul Eyes Bihar But Grand Alliance Hinges on Nitish Kumar

Though the Congress finds it hard to forgive Kumar and the RJD strongly rejects the possibility of his ever joining back, the grand old party is still open to the idea of welcoming him back to the fold.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:December 20, 2018, 2:11 PM IST
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After Sweeping Heartland, Rahul Eyes Bihar But Grand Alliance Hinges on Nitish Kumar
File photos of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
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New Delhi: A victory in three states has given a sprint to the Congress and party chief Rahul Gandhi has now got down to the business of stitching an alliance in Bihar.

The back-room negotiations with RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha are almost complete and the former Union minister is now almost ready to jump on to the Mahagathbandhan ship. Kushwaha comes with a strong votebank of about 6 per cent. However, the bigger lure is the fact that Kushwaha left the NDA to join hands with the Congress and the move will help the grand old party and its allies to build a perception that leaders are leaving the NDA.

The Congress was all smiles when LJP’s Chirag Paswan praised Gandhi for having come of age. Back-room chatter has also begun to try and get Paswan to jump the NDA ship. However, Bihar Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan dismissed Paswan’s praise, saying “They are called weather indicators. They have understood which way the wind is blowing.”

But the key issue is about Nitish Kumar. Though the Congress finds it hard to forgive him and the RJD strongly rejects the possibility of Kumar ever joining back, the grand old party is still open to the idea of welcoming him back to the fold. This will serve one key purpose — show the BJP that everyone is ready to desert them.

Ranjan had also hinted about the same when she told News18 that “he has his compulsions but we would want all those who want to defeat a communal party like BJP to come together”.

Getting Kumar, however, is easier said than done. The Bihar chief minister has made it clear he won’t leave the NDA, while the RJD has specified that the only thing it wants in exchange for its unflinching support to the Congress is that Kumar is kept away. Bihar, with its 40 Lok Sabha seats, is critical for the Mahagathbandhan to make it to the Centre.
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