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Lalu ties up alliance loose ends

New Delhi, Jan. 27: Lalu Prasad called on Rahul Gandhi today amid signals from both sides that a wider alliance between the RJD, Congress, LJP and the NCP was on the cards for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

There was no formal word from the Congress. On the party’s possible alliance with fodder scam convict Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bihar, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said in an interview to Times Now that his party ties up with a political party, not with an individual.

“Our alliance would be with the idea of a political party, not with an individual,” he said. Rahul was quick to add that an alliance with the RJD had not been finalised yet. “It is in the process,” he said.

Lalu, however, said it (alliance) was a done thing now that all secular parties would join hands in Bihar to withhold the communal forces.

“Modi is talking about a Congress-free India and I am saying ‘no India without Congress’…All the secular forces will join hands to defeat the communal forces,” Lalu said after the meeting with Rahul, his second in recent weeks.

Lalu said even the NCP (Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party) would be part of the wider alliance. He indicated that NCP leader Tariq Anwar would contest the Lok Sabha election from Bihar.

Lalu, desperate to stage a comeback in Bihar, even called out to former JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha to join the alliance as he expressed readiness to leave a Lok Sabha seat for the Kushwaha caste leader.

“I want everybody to join hands and defeat the communal forces,” he said.

Sources in the Congress indicated that the alliance was on the verge of being finalised and details of seat sharing were being discussed. Rahul’s concern about joining hands with Lalu, convicted in a corruption case, has also been addressed.

Yesterday, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh met both Lalu and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan. Today, NCP’s Anwar called on Paswan. LJP leaders too said the alliance now looked certain as the Congress was pushing for it.

Lalu refrained from disclosing anything on the distribution of the 40 Lok Sabha seats. Party insiders, however, said that so far the tentative figures were that the RJD would contest 20 seats, Congress 10, LJP 8 and NCP 2.

Also on Lalu’s mind during the meeting with Rahul was to push for re-election for confidant Prem Chand Gupta to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand.

Gupta’s current Rajya Sabha term from Bihar expires on April 9 this year. Given the drastically depleted strength of the RJD in the Bihar Assembly, he cannot aspire for re-election and hence the search from the neighbouring state. The RJD has just five members in the Jharkhand Assembly and wants to get the support of 11 Congress MLAs and Independents to ensure Gupta is re-elected.


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