Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav's wholehearted support to the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 general election drew snide remarks on Monday from the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar which wondered whether it was part of "strong arm tactics" against the Congress, its ally in the mahagathbandhan.
The NDA's reaction came after Tejashwi Yadav greeted Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav for forging an alliance and dumping the Congress out of it.
"This step of the BSP and the SP is going to be hailed in later stages," Tejashwi Yadav said in Lucknow on Monday.
A mortified Congress evaded a direct reply when it was asked about Yadav's Lucknow visit, where he touched Mayawati's feet and declared the RJD's full support to the alliance at a press conference he jointly addressed with Akhilesh Yadav.
BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand asserted it is actually a "posturing, a strong arm tactics by the RJD" which, he added, has an inflated sense of its importance and treats its alliance partners with contempt.
"Tejashwi Yadav is indirectly trying to show his party's alliance in Bihar that the RJD will dictate the terms in the alliance here," Anand said.
"Whatever Tejashwi Yadav's Lucknow tour may mean for UP politics, in Bihar it is clearly indicative of the clash of egos that the Grand Alliance is witnessing. The clash of egos has come in the way of finalising a seat-sharing arrangement among its too many constituents. We are looking at a situation where they would not be able to reach any understanding till the date of voting and end up fighting each other," he claimed.
Media reports suggest that the Congress is demanding a large number of seats out of the total 40 in Bihar to be a part of the mahagathbandhan. It has cited its recent victory in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to assert its claim, but the RJD, the main force behind the anti-NDA coalition, is unwilling to accept the demand.
Reacting to the developments, Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan said, "We wonder what type of the grand alliance the opposition in Bihar had been talking about. In UP, the Congress, which was supposed to lead the so-called mahagathbandhan, has been left out".
"Tejashwi Yadav and his party are in dire straits so, may be, he is on an expedition to make as many political friends as possible... The SP-BSP alliance may be a strong one, but there is nothing grand about it," Paswan, son of LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan and chairman of the party's parliamentary board, said.
Similar views were expressed by Janata Dal-United MLC and spokesman Neeraj Kumar who questioned whether Tejashwi Yadav had no concern for the "insult" meted out to the Congress by the formation of SP-BSP alliance.
Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra tried to side-step a question on the alliance, saying Tejashwi Yadav has family relations with Akhilesh Yadav. "May be he has gone there in a personal capacity, to celebrate Makar Sankranti."
However, when the queries persisted, he said until and unless the RJD comes out with a statement explaining why it is lending support to a formation which has not taken the Congress on board, "we would not like to say anything on the matter".
At his Lucknow press conference, Tejashwi Yadav, who has emerged as the de facto leader of his party in the absence of his father and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, claimed even Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said that it does not matter who is in an alliance as long as it serves the purpose of defeating the BJP.