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Lalu calls alliance shots, ally sulks

- RJD had its way on seat-sharing, now its men are getting tickets, cry some in Congress

Patna, March 19: The Congress in Bihar feels Lalu Prasad has had his way in every aspect of their alliance with the RJD, from the seats they got to the candidates they fielded.

Take the case of former Bihar director-general of police (DGP) Ashish Ranjan Sinha. He joined the Congress on Tuesday morning, severing his ties with the RJD. By evening, when the Congress announced another set of candidates, he was the RJD-Congress candidate from Nalanda.

“Sinha must have created a record of sorts in the Congress by getting a Lok Sabha seat ticket within 12 hours of joining the party,” said a senior Congress leader, bitter at RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s absolute control over the alliance.

There was so much speculation about Rahul Gandhi having reservations on an alliance with the RJD. “But ultimately, our party not only blinked and agreed to 12 seats instead of the 15 it was seeking, it also allowed Lalu to give us seats where winning was impossible, like in Patna Sahib, Hajipur and Nalanda. Besides, he is fielding his candidates on our party ticket,” remarked a former Congress MLC.

Congress sources say apart from Aurangabad, Sasaram, Samastipur (a seat Lalu conceded after a hard bargain) and Kishanganj, the RJD chief has had a say in virtually every seat. But Congress spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra said: “Except in Nalanda, all other candidates are bona fide Congressmen.”

A section in the Congress feels even Valmikinagar is going to a “Lalu man”. Rebel JD(U) MP from Gopalganj, Puranmasi Ram, joined RJD before the alliance with the Congress. Valmikinagar, from where Ram hails, has been given to the Congress. “But the Congress candidate from there will be Puranmasi Ram,” stressed the Congress leader.

Even former Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar had to meet Lalu Prasad before going back to Kerala to resign and contest from Aurangabad. “Speaker Meira Kumar spoke to Lalu over phone before filing her nomination from Sasaram. Virtually, everybody has had to talk to Lalu before filing nominations. It’s a total surrender,” said the former MLC, wondering whatever came of Rahul’s “honourable alliance” talk.

RJD leaders insist the Congress should not complain as it has been given four times the number of seats it was offered in 2009. “The Congress has no crowd-puller here. Besides, the very success of this alliance depends on how many Yadav votes Laluji can transfer to the Congress,” said a former RJD leader, hinting at resentment over giving so many seats to the Congress. They alleged the Congress was demanding seats for which it had no candidate. “Ashish Ranjan Sinha hails from the dominant Kurmi caste. He will put up a much better in Nalanda than any Congress candidate can,” the RJD leader said.


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