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Allies at Centre, opponents in Bihar

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Last updated on: January 24, 2005 18:50 IST

After failing to clinch a seat-sharing accord, the constituents of the United Progressive Alliance, ruling at the Centre, will fight each other in 57 of the 64 assembly seats in Bihar going to polls on February three.

The Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party are the UPA allies contesting the election.

Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal has fielded 58 candidates and has spared three seats for the Communist Party of India and two for the CPI (Marxist). Also, it will not fight against the Congress in Kahalgaon, where Speaker Sadanand Singh is the sitting member of Legislative Assembly.

In 17 places, its candidates are face-to-face with those of the Congress, which has a seat-sharing agreement with Ramvilas Paswan's LJP. These are seats where the RJD had not emerged victorious in the last assembly election in 2000.

Political observers feel this would help the RJD nominee as anti-Lalu votes would get divided among the Congress and the National Democratic Alliance, which comprises the Bharatiya Janata Party, Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United).

As per the understanding between the LJP and the Congress, the former will contest 46 seats, while the latter will be the fray in 18.

In the 2000 election, the RJD had won 33 of the 64 seats, while the Congress was victorious in Kahalgaon. The Samata Party and the JD(U), which have since merged, had pocketed 12 seats and the BJP had won six.

Poll watchers say LJP, which was in alliance with the NDA in the 2000 election, may queer the pitch for the RJD, which has been in power in the state for 15 years largely due to division of anti-Lalu Prasad Yadav votes.

However, it will depend on how successful Paswan, who has substantial support among Dalits, is in making inroads into the weaker section and Muslim vote banks of Lalu Prasad Yadav with Congress support.

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