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Seat shadow on RJD-LJP alliance

Patna, Dec. 24: The nearly five-year-old RJD-LJP alliance has come under strain over Lok Sabha seat-sharing.

The LJP chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, apprehends that the RJD might reduce its quota of seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. His fear is not unfounded because the RJD boss, Lalu Prasad, is keen to include the Congress in the “secular” alliance.

Lalu’s all-out initiative has prompted a general perception that the Congress might get preference over the LJP while seat-sharing. The RJD had given the LJP 12 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The LJP vice-president, Surajbhan Singh, and the party’s general secretary, Satyanand Sharma, today accused the RJD of neglecting the LJP despite its president, Paswan, stood with Lalu come “rain or shine”.

“Paswan met Lalu in jail and called on Rabri Devi twice at her Patna residence, expressing his solidarity with the RJD. The LJP stood like rock behind the RJD when the party was in crisis in the wake of Lalu’s conviction in a fodder scam case. But Lalu has talked more in praise of the CPI-ML(Liberation) rather than the LJP-RJD’s old alliance,” Surajbhan said.

The RJD’s alliance hope with the CPI-ML(Liberation) suffered a jolt today with the Liberation general secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya, announcing to contest 20 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The other Left parties, including the CPI and the CPM, have not taken any decision so far on the issue of polls in Bihar, but it is believed that the CPI-ML(Liberation) had left 20 seats for the two other Left parties to contest.

That the LJP was not happy with the way the RJD was treating it of late was evident yesterday when Paswan said Lalu should take a call on the direction of the RJD-LJP alliance. “I am not satisfied at the way the things are moving. Lalu should discuss the seat-sharing issue with the LJP,” he said.

What escalated the acrimony between the two parties was the senior RJD leader and MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s remarks that “the LJP should bring to the fore its winnable candidates first. “The party’s (LJP’s) demand for seats would be accommodated in keeping with the potential of its candidates,” he had said.

The LJP leadership has taken Raghuvansh’s statement as an “insult” to the party’s performance. The LJP had lost all the 12 seats of its quota, including Hajipur that Paswan had contested, in 2009.

Returning the fire, the LJP leaders said the RJD, too, had lost its security deposits in several seats in 2009. It is a fact that RJD too had fared badly in 2009 as it had won only four of the 28 seats it had contested.

Insiders in both the camps, however, described the current spell of acrimony between the two parties more as a tussle for bargaining on seats rather than a realistic exercise to snap the ties.

Surajbhan is believed to be a contestant. So, he and people like him might be exerting pressure on the leadership to have more seats so that he had a chance to contest, said an RJD insider.

Lalu Prasad, so far, has not spoken anything on the number of seats to be given to the LJP this time around.

Sources close to him, however, revealed that he might persuade Paswan to be content with five or six seats in the event of the Congress joining the alliance.

The Congress had fared relatively better than the LJP in 2009 as the party had bagged two seats.

Against this backdrop, the Congress might get more seats in comparison to the LJP if the RJD-Congress-LJP alliance materialises.