Trouble for the Congress in the INDIA bloc seems to be multiplying. After the Samajwadi Party accused the Congress of betrayal over seat sharing in Madhya Pradesh, it is now the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), another constituent of the bloc, that has demanded at least six seats in poll-bound Rajasthan.
In the 2018 Rajasthan polls, RLD had fought on two seats -- Bharatpur and Malpura. It had won Bharatpur but lost Malpura.
This time, RLD, which is contesting as an ally of the Congress in Rajasthan, is learnt to have demanded more seats in the Jat-dominated districts like Jhunjhunu, Churu, Hanumangarh, Bharatpur, Bikaner and Sikar.
According to rough poll estimates, Jats form over 10 per cent of the electorate and wield influence in around 40 of the 200 seats in Rajasthan.
“The Congress should allow its allies to contest in these seats,” said a senior RLD leader.
RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary has already campaigned in five Assembly seats, including Jaipur and Bharatpur. “His rallies in some more seats are being planned in the days to come,” the leader said.
He said many party leaders have been pressing for a larger political field in the state.
“Every party seeks to expand its base. There is nothing wrong in demanding a larger space if the party has a perceptible presence,” said RLD national convener Anupam Mishra.
He said leaders from other opposition parties, including BSP, who had lost by a thin margin in 2018, were in touch with the RLD to contest on the party ticket.
Sources said RLD also plans to approach Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar to mobilize Dalit voters in its favour in Rajasthan.
The RLD has been consistently propping Chandra Shekhar amid speculation about his inclusion in the INDIA bloc and a possibility of him contesting the Lok Sabha election from Nagina, a reserved seat in west UP’s Bijnor district.
RLD’s assertion attains significance against the backdrop of SP flexing its muscles against the Congress in Madhya Pradesh.
The SP leadership is said to be miffed after the Congress announced the candidature of Charan Singh Yadav from Bijawar, the lone seat which was won by SP’s Rajesh Shukla in the 2018 Assembly polls.