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Lalu meets Rahul, hints at alliance

New Delhi, Jan. 27: Lalu Prasad called on Rahul Gandhi today amid signals that a wider alliance between the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, Lok Janshakti Party and the NCP was on the cards for the upcoming general elections.

There was no formal word from the Congress but the RJD boss said all secular parties would “join hands” in Bihar to take on “communal forces”.

“(Narendra) 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,” the former Bihar chief minister said after the meeting with Rahul, his second with the Congress vice-president.

Lalu Prasad, who had met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi earlier, said Sharad Pawar’s NCP would also be part of the wider alliance and hinted that party leader Tariq Anwar would contest from Bihar.

The RJD boss, out on bail in a fodder scam case and desperate to stage a comeback in Bihar, even called out to former Janata Dal (United) leader Upendra Kushwaha to join the alliance and expressed readiness to spare 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 hinted that the alliance was on the verge of being finalised, though details like sharing of seats were still being worked out. Yesterday, party general secretary Digvijaya Singh had met both Lalu Prasad and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan. Today, NCP leader Anwar called on Paswan. LJP sources, too, said the alliance looked certain as the Congress was pushing for it.

Although Lalu Prasad gave no hint about distribution of seats, party insiders said the tentative arrangement so far was the RJD would contest 20 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress would contest 10, the LJP eight and the NCP two.

Lalu Prasad, however, got no assurance from Rahul on Congress support for confidant Prem Chand Gupta, whose Rajya Sabha term from Bihar expires on April 9.

Gupta cannot hope for re-election from Bihar because of the RJD’s depleted strength in the Assembly.

Congress leaders said it was unlikely the party would back Gupta when it was in a position to get its candidate elected from Jharkhand with JMM support.