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Push for Cong-RJD pact

Patna, Jan. 8: The alliance of the non-BJP parties started taking shape today with the Congress, RJD and the LJP leaderships dropping enough hint of the growing proximity between them in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

The possibility of an alliance between the JD(U) and the Left (CPI, CPM) minus the CPI(ML)-Liberation looked bright a day after senior CPM leader S. Ramchandra Pillai indicated that his party would favour a tie-up with Nitish Kumar’s party. The three Left parties — CPI, CPM and CPI(ML)-Liberation — had a joint meeting to mull over the alliance. Barring CPI(ML)-Liberation, the CPI and CPM favoured an alliance with JD(U). “Nitish, as of now, fits well in the CPI and CPM’s scheme of things,” a top Left leader said.

The Congress also geared up for the polls today with All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries K.L. Sharma and Paresh Dhanani landing here to “review” the party’s strength and activities in the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Sources close to the state Congress president, Ashok Choudhary, Congress Legislative Party leader Sadanand Singh and other senior leaders who attended the meeting revealed that the Bihar Congressmen strongly stood for the Congress-RJD-LJP alliance that had swept the state in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

The senior Congress leaders, however, preferred not to be quoted at this stage on the issue. “As of now, the party is preparing for the January 17 AICC session in New Delhi. The party high command will take a call on the alliance at the appropriate time. The state party unit will go by whatever decision the high command takes,” Choudhary said.

Sources in the Congress said the party would focus more on projecting Rahul Gandhi as its supreme leader and preparing him to spearhead its campaign in the 2014 polls at the special AICC session on January 17. “The formal announcement on alliance might be made after the AICC session, maybe in end-January or February,” a senior AICC functionary said.

The Congress spokesperson, Premchand Mishra, said: “Dhanani and Sharma solicited the views of the party cadre on the issue of alliance in today’s meeting. They suggested the cadre to work strongly for the success of the party at the grassroots.”

Sources in the party said senior Congress leaders strongly argued in favour of the Congress-RJD alliance, asserting that the alliance had worked well in 2004. “We faired poorly last time because the Congress-RJD alliance fell apart in the state in 2009. With Lalu Prasad ready to rectify his mistakes of 2009 and give adequate seats to the Congress, there is no reason for not reviving the tested alliance,” a senior AICC functionary said.

The RJD secretary-general, Ram Kripal Yadav, said: “The talks on the Congress-RJD alliance had reached an advanced stage. The LJP is very much part of the RJD-led secular alliance in Bihar.”

The LJP also appeared to be game for the tie-up. On the sidelines of its students’ wing conclave, the party’s parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan said: “The RJD-LJP alliance is intact. ”


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