NEW DELHI -- Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi will kick off his party's election campaign in Champaran, Bihar, today, but key allies Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and the state's chief minister Nitish Kumar are not attending his rally at the Hazari Maidan.
In a bid to beat the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming polls, the Congress Party has joined with Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and the RJD to form the anti-BJP alliance. While former rivals RJD and JD(U) will contest 100 seats each, the Congress Party will field 40 candidates.
The Bihar State Elections over 243 seats will be conducted from October 12 to November 5, and counting day is on November 8.
While neither Kumar nor Yadav are joining Gandhi's rally at Ramnagar in West Champaran district today, PTI reported, Bihar Congress Party president Ashok Choudhary urged against assigning political significance to their absence, pointing out that they are busy with seat allotment and selection of candidates.
Observers said that Yadav's relations with the Gandhi family have blown hot and cold, over the years. In 2013, for instance, Gandhi famously tore up the Congress Party-led government's ordinance, which negated the Supreme Court verdict on disqualifying convicted lawmakers, dubbing it as "complete nonsense." The ordinance would have helped Yadav, who was dismissed as a lawmaker for being convicted in a multi-crore fodder scam.
JD(U) General Secretary KC Tyagi has been deputed to attend Gandhi's rally, and Yadav's son, Tejashwi Yadav, will represent their party.
RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav and JDU leader KC Tyagi on stage for Rahul Gandhi's rally in West Champaran(Bihar) pic.twitter.com/l7Nn6UaSR6— ANI (@ANI_news) September 19, 2015
On the other side, BJP, which is contesting for 160 seats, has formed an alliance with Dalit leaders Ram Vilas Paswan, chief of Lok Janshakti Party (40 seats), Upendra Kushwaha's, who heads Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (23 seats), and Jitan Ram Manhji, who has secured 20 seats for the Hindustani Awam Morcha.