TT Epaper
The Telegraph
CIMA Gallary

Anti-graft spanner in Bihar plan

Patna, Dec. 23: The euphoria over a possible Congress-RJD alliance after Sonia Gandhi’s call to Lalu Prasad on the latter’s release on bail has subsided after the party high command’s “new directives” to state leaders.

The Congress state vice president Premchand Mishra said: “As of now, the Congress is not considering the proposal of an alliance with any party in the state. We have been asked to prepare for contesting all 40 seats in the state.”

On their return after meeting Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi recently, Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh and BPCC chief Ashok Choudhary, too, ruled out “talks of alliance” with any party.

Apart from Sonia Gandhi’s call congratulating Lalu on his bail, Union minister for communications and information technology, Kapil Sibal, too had welcomed Lalu’s release. Sibal is known to be close to Lalu and a votary for an RJD-Congress alliance. In light of these developments some state Congress leaders had begun adopting a “soft posture” on Lalu, indicating a possible alliance.

But after the Congress piloted the Lokpal bill and decided to support the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) bid to form a government in Delhi today and given Rahul Gandhi’s stand against corruption, questions are being raised about a RJD-Congress alliance happening. “After all, Lalu Prasad stands convicted in a fodder scam case. Forging an alliance with his RJD is not in conformity with the Congress’ stepped-up campaign against corruption. Moreover, the move might give the BJP ammunition to pillory the Congress with,” remarked an AICC functionary from Bihar. Sources said both Sonia and Rahul had “instructed” state party leaders who met them recently not to “commit anything” on alliance. Congressmen were asked to “concentrate” only on preparations for the polls.

The Congress has convened an All India Congress Committee (AICC) session in New Delhi on January 17 to discuss strategies for the 2014 elections and possible alliances in the states, including Bihar.

But AICC sources said if at all an alliance happens it would be with Lalu’s RJD only.

“Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has turned aggressive against the Congress after the latter’s poor show in four of five states that went to polls recently. He (Nitish) feels an anti-Congress wave is sweeping the country and if he forged an alliance with it he, too, might face people’s wrath,” said a senior Congress strategist.

But those who favour an alliance with the RJD are advancing the logic that Lalu commands a credible social base and should not be ignored.

The pro-Lalu camp includes Kerala governor Nikhil Kumar, Speaker Meira Kumar and AICC general secretary Shakeel Amed. Alliance supporters also argue that corruption should not be “linked” to a particular party.

A senior Congress leader said: “The court has already barred convicted leaders, including Lalu, from contesting. Why should his (Lalu’s) party (RJD) be labelled corrupt?”

Lalu is reportedly making all efforts to woo the Congress.