Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) may have lost the Bihar Assembly polls of October-November 2020 to the NDA, but not before giving incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar a minor scare. He is now carrying the battle scars of that contest over to Assam, the northeastern state set to vote in March-April. The young leader has been camped in Guwahati since last evening when the poll panel announced the voting schedule.
The RJD, sources say, is likely to contest in Assam and Mr Yadav is looking for allies. Like in Bihar, there is a six-party Mahagatbandhan in this state, too, led by the Congress. Speculation is rife that the RJD will join it even though it has no base in Assam.
The Congress is allied with the RJD nationally and has always maintained good relations since the days of Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Bihar-based party’s founder. He met the Congress leadership last evening. They may meet again today. If Congress sources are to be believed, the huge Bhojpuri vote bank in certain pockets of Assam could use Mr Yadav as a star campaigner. Traditionally, these voters have swayed towards the BJP.
Mr Yadav has also maintained ties with the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) led by Hagrama Mohilary, the BJP’s former partner. In the last Bodoland polls held towards the end of 2020, the BJP dumped it and formed a post-poll alliance with the United People’s Party Liberal, ousting Hagrama out of power from Bodoland Territorial Council.
On February 10, Mr Yadav had attended the Bodoland Accord Day celebrations as chief guest on Mr Hagrama’s invite.
The RJD chief is also meeting Badruddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front at 12 noon today. His meeting with the Congress today is likely to include Mr Ajmal, sources said. The idea, sources said, was to talk to all the anti-CAA parties. The Centre’s Citizenship Amendment Act had sparked a furore across the state sections of which view the new legislation as legitimising decades of illegal immigration suffered by Assam.
Meanwhile, some media reports said RJD’s arch rival from Bihar, the Janata Dal United, too, may contest the Assam polls this time. The chances, however, are the it will go solo.
Of the 126 seats in the Assam assembly, 47 will go to polls on March 27 in the first phase, 39 on April 1, and 40 on April 6. Counting for all the three phases will take place on May 2. The ruling BJP is looking to retain power even as the opposition Congress-led combine eyes change.