PTI, PATNA: After a prolonged tug-of-war among its partners, the 'mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) in Bihar finally allocated all of the 40 Lok Sabha seats Friday, announcing candidature of Misa Bharti from Pataliputra, Congress' Meira Kumar from Sasaram and RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui's from Darbhanga.
As per the seat-sharing formula, the RJD has got 20 seats, out of which it is giving up one for the ultra-Left party, the Congress has nine, followed by five for Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP and three each for Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and Mukesh Sahni's VIP.
The announcement was made by Tejashwi Yadav at a press conference on Friday, but absence of any senior Congress leader on the occasion showed the party's displeasure over arm-twisting by Lalu Prasad's RJD.
The announcement of Abdul Bari Siddiqui's name from Darbhanga draws the curtains on possibility of sitting MP Kirti Azad seeking re-election as a Congress candidate, who recently joined the party after quitting the BJP.
Speculation is rife that the absence of senior Congress leaders at the press conference, where former MLC Narendra Kumar Singh was a representative, is an indication of its leadership being sore over being arm-twisted by the RJD to give up its claim on the seat, resulting in an embarrassment to AICC chief Rahul Gandhi, who inducted Azad with fanfare.
Although Siddiqui is a senior leader and has held important ministries besides having served as leader of opposition in the state assembly, his candidature has also ruffled the feathers of RJD strongman Ashraf Fatmi, who has represented Darbhanga a number of times and was the runner-up in 2014.
Tejashwi Yadav also announced that the RJD would be fielding Tanveer Hassan in Begusarai, the party candidate who came in second in 2014, a decision that may queer the pitch for CPI's Kanhaiya Kumar who is taking on firebrand BJP leader Giriraj Singh.
"Our candidates for 18 constituencies are final. We will do the same for Sheohar in the next few days while we are leaving Ara in favor of the CPI(ML) as had been announced earlier," Yadav said.
Withholding the name on Sheohar seat could be seen as an attempt to mollify Tej Pratap Yadav, who resigned from the post of patron of the RJD student's wing Thursday, to push candidatures of his favourites Angesh Kumar and Chandra Prakash from Sheohar and Jehanabad, respectively.
Former state minister Surendra Yadav's name was declared Friday for the Jehanabad.
Yadav, who asserted that the 'mahagathbandhan' was intact and unbreakable, denied reports of rift between his party and the Congress and taunted the NDA over BJP rebels entering the fray from seats like Banka and Katihar.
Among the RJD chief's family members, his eldest daughter and Rajya Sabha MP, Misa Bharti, will once again be in the fray from Pataliputra where she had lost in 2014 to her father's former loyalist Ram Kripal Yadav, who joined the BJP and went on to become a Union minister.