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Lalu wins one and loses one

Patna, March 10: The pre-poll crossover syndrome has struck again as Pataliputra warms up for a showdown.

Two leaders, Pappu Yadav and Ghulam Gaus, have switched camps and there are hints that Ram Kripal Yadav — at whose cost Lalu Prasad gave the Pataliputra ticket to daughter Misa Bharati — may join the BJP tomorrow.

Pappu, once accused in the murder of CPM legislator Ajit Sarkar, has returned to the RJD after almost a decade. He has been allotted Madhepura from where the JD(U) national president, Sharad Yadav, is likely to contest. Pappu’s wife Ranjeeta Ranjan has been given a ticket from Supaul.

Pappu, who has represented both Madhepura and Purnea in Parliament, has declared Lalu Prasad the only leader who has fought for secularism. He came down heavily on Narendra Modi, who wooed the minorities at a Purnea rally.

However, Lalu Prasad has lost a Muslim leader. Three-time MLC Ghulam Gaus today quit the RJD and joined the JD(U) in the presence of chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Gaus did not hide the reason for his quitting the RJD. “I did not get a ticket,” he told reporters later, hinting he might contest from Madhubani. “Muslim votes will come to me, not to Abdul Bari Siddiqui,” he claimed, adding that dedicated workers in the RJD had been ignored.

If fielded from Madhubani, Gaus will have Siddiqui and the sitting BJP MP, Hukumdev Yadav, as his main rivals.

Lalu Prasad, however, sounded calm. “Jaaney waley ko kaun rok sakta hai (Who can stop persons wanting to leave)?” he asked. He claimed the JD(U) and the BJP had not decided their candidates and were poaching on his.

To complicate the scene further, the stung RJD Rajya Sabha MP, Ram Kripal, appeared to have decided to take on Misa from Pataliputra possibly on a BJP ticket.

Ram Kripal’s supporters are believed to have persuaded him to contest the election and left it to him to join whichever party he wanted.

“I will remain secular, no matter which party I go to,” a loyalist quoted him as saying.

There are indications that Ram Kripal might opt for the BJP. “That is why he stressed on secularism,” a supporter said.