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Lalu ripples in state govt

New Delhi, Jan. 15: The Congress’s indecision over continuing an alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) for the coming Lok Sabha elections is threatening the future of the Hemant Soren-led cosy, but ineffective, coalition government in Jharkhand.

State Congress leaders, who arrived in Delhi today to take part in the party’s January 17 AICC session, said there was a fair amount of confusion and fear in the Jharkhand unit over the future of the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance.

“When we meet senior leaders we are going to tell them to take a decision keeping in mind that it might have repercussions in Jharkhand. Ultimately, it is for the high command to take a final call but we are jittery over the fate of the coalition if the party decides to part with RJD,” a senior Congress leader told The Telegraph.

He said since the Congress had entered into a 10-4 seat-sharing agreement with JMM for the Lok Sabha polls, the state unit was ready to accommodate RJD and give it two seats to contest in Jharkhand.

“But, all that is unclear now,” the leader added.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, now on bail after spending sometime at Ranchi’s Birsa jail following his conviction in a fodder scam case, met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi last week to convince him about the need for an alliance for the parliamentary elections.

But, the Congress has remained non-committal so far.

Insiders said it was the Aam Aadmi Party-effect and the fear of being stigmatised by joining hands with a leader convicted in a corruption case that was holding back the Congress even though it had earlier made up its mind to bring RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP under one umbrella in Bihar.

This development, however, has not gone down well with state Congress leaders who are lobbying hard to ensure that their government in Jharkhand remained secure for at least a few more months.

“The RJD’s strength in the Lok Sabha now stands reduced to three, with Lalu Prasad having lost his own membership following his conviction. People will get a wrong message if the Congress ignores all these issues and goes ahead with the alliance even as public mood is totally against corruption and leaders with that image,” a party source confided.

However, he urged the high command not to forget that the Congress and the RJD were partners in Jharkhand and any step at severing ties would have its political repercussions in Jharkhand.

State PCC chief Sukhdeo Bhagat admitted there was a strain in the alliance, but added that the state unit was bound to follow the high command’s decision, irrespective of whether the state government survived or not.


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