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Lalu-Rahul talks for poll pact

- Key Delhi meet, Sushil eyes Dal votes

New Delhi, Jan. 9: Lalu Prasad today called on Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to press for an electoral alliance with the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, which he felt was necessary if Narendra Modi has to be stopped.

The meeting with Rahul and Priyanka was considered as a “positive signal” by the RJD leaders, as the Congress vice-president was seen as opposed to the alliance, fearing it could harm his anti-corruption stand.

Rahul met Lalu with Priyanka by his side at his 11 Tughlak Road residence. The address was slowly gaining importance over Sonia Gandhi’s 10 Janpath indicating the transition of power in the party. The All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge for Bihar, C.P. Joshi, was also present at the meeting.

“If Modi has to be stopped, then we (RJD-Congress-LJP) have to come together,” Lalu said emerging after more than half-an-hour meeting exhibiting confidence that an electoral tie-up was on the cards.

Lalu, however, described the meeting as “courtesy call” but indicated that talks were going in the right direction and a seat-sharing pact between the RJD-Congress and the LJP could be clinched before January 17. “There were no talks on seats today…. There is a process in Congress,” Lalu said on asked when the deal would be through.

Lalu had earlier called on Sonia last month and this meeting was seen as a follow-up to address the concerns raised by Rahul. Congress sources said Lalu had sought a meeting with Rahul after told the Congress scion feared that an alliance with Lalu, convicted in the fodder scam, could dent his position against corruption.

Lalu, however, claimed that Rahul had called him to enquire about his health when he was admitted to AIIMS recently. The RJD chief said Rahul had desired to meet him after he gets well and so he had come to meet.

Congress insiders said that Rahul was still not keen for an alliance with the RJD but was buckling to pressure from the old guard of the party, including mother Sonia, who feels the alliance was mutually beneficial.

Rahul, however, is learnt to be insisting for a face saver and efforts are on to work out something. The idea to replace Lalu with someone of his choice as the president of the RJD was also being considered. The RJD leaders rejected the idea strongly and said that Lalu was their “tallest leader” and felt Rahul should not raise objection, as he already stands debarred from contesting the elections.

“Rahul should have no objections. Laluji will not contest the elections. He will only campaign,” said an RJD leader.

About an alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu said he had held telephonic talks with the LJP chief and was confident that he would join the RJD-Congress fight to stop the communal forces. “I had stopped the rath of L.K. Advani. Once again, Bihar would only stop Modi,” Lalu said.

About the popularity of the Aam Aadmi Party on the anti-corruption plank, an angry Lalu said the party was a “creation of the media”.


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