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Alliance dilemma for LJP

Patna, Jan. 21: Ram Vilas Paswan today said there was “sharp division” in his party in choosing between the RJD and the JD(U), a day after Nitish Kumar and the LJP chief broke into mutual admiration for each other.

He, however, stuck to his stand that he would go by what the Congress eventually decides.

“There emerged a sharp difference in our party over choosing the alliance partner in Bihar at our parliamentary board meeting a month ago. While a section wanted the alliance with the JD(U), another wanted it with the RJD. It is primarily because of the division in our ranks, I have left the decision on the Congress,” Paswan said.

At the same time, he stuck to what is being referred to as “ultimatum” to the Congress to take the decision over its preference between the JD(U) and the RJD by January 31. “I will go by what Sonia Gandhi, whom we consider as the leader of the secular alliance, decides.”

In reply to a specific query about the RJD’s objection over the two LJP leaders, Rama Singh and Surajbhan Singh — allegedly embroiled in criminal cases and probable party candidates for the Lok Sabha polls — Paswan said: “Rama and Surajbhan are senior leaders of the LJP. They are the pillars of the party.”

In a way, Paswan revealed that the two controversial leaders were the “bone of contention” between the RJD and the JD(U). Sources believe that the Congress and Lalu are believed to have their “reservations” against Rama and Surajbhan.

On the other hand, the Congress today further turned away from the JD(U), indicating that if at all it entered into alliance it will be with the RJD-LJP, not the JD(U). Responding to Nitish ruling out an alliance with the Congress yesterday and criticising the latter for sitting over his demand for special category status to the state, the party’s chief spokesman, Premchand Mishra said: “It is highly improper for Nitish to attack the Congress while running his government with the Congress’s support.”

Mishra, however, objected to Paswan giving an “ultimatum” to the Congress.

“It is not proper for a probable ally to set a deadline for the Congress. It is the Congress that will decide the timing of the alliance and preference on whom it will go with,” he said.

The Congress was, however, not critical to Lalu. “Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has instructed us for a respectable alliance that we are working on,” he said.

On pointing out that Paswan had praised Nitish yesterday, Lalu said: “Paswanji is a gentleman. My relationship with him is excellent. I stay in touch with him. I have never stated that we will not have an alliance with the LJP. I have never shown disrespect to him.”

Lalu, however, said: “There were some people around him who were not allowing him to take decisions. Paswan is a good human being.”