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Stage set for election unity

- Dal-RJD talks reach final phase

Patna, July 27: Arch-rivals Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are all set to campaign together as the grand alliance of the JDU, RJD and Congress for the upcoming bypolls to the 10 Assembly seats was almost sealed today.

Bashishtha Narayan Singh, the JDU state president, said at the party office today: “One should not have any doubt over the alliance. We have finalised the seats as well. This has been done in view of the political situation prevailing in the state and it was important to have the grand alliance. I only sent Shyam Rajak to meet Laluji regarding the alliance.”

Rajak, the food and consumer protection minister, visited 10 Circular Road yesterday to meet the RJD chief to seal a deal with the party. The formal announcement in this regard would be made on July 30, when Nitish returns from Mumbai. Both Lalu and Nitish would make the announcement jointly, JDU sources hinted.

Ahead of the by-elections, the campaign stage would witness for the first time in two decades the two popular leaders seeking votes for a common candidate. The two had parted ways in 1994 when Nitish, along with George Fernandes, had walked out from Janata Dal to form the Samata Party and vowed to fight the “jungle raj unleashed by the Lalu regime”.

This will be the biggest political shift in two decades in the state also. Before the Lok Sabha polls in April-May, the LJP chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, made a U-turn by joining the NDA and the BJP he had quit in 2002.

Bashishtha added: “So far as seat sharing is concerned, the JDU and the RJD will contest in four seats each and the Congress will contest in two seats.”

Though Bashishtha refused to share the seat details, a source in the JDU said: “The JDU candidates will contest in Narkatiaganj, Jale, Parbatta and Hajipur Assembly seats. The RJD will contest Banka, Rajnagar, Chhapra and Mohiuddinnagar. The Congress has been given Bhagalpur and Mohania.”

Both Lalu and Nitish are products of the JP Movement — one flamboyant and maverick (Lalu) and another crafty and articulate (Nitish). They had virtually executed the change of an era in Bihar by dislodging the Congress forever from power in 1990s.

On whether Lalu and Nitish spoke to each other on the alliance, the JDU state president said: “Of course, yesterday they had spoken to each other and today also. They will speak to each other tomorrow as well. I must also say that Laluji and Nitishji will campaign together in the upcoming bypolls.”

When the JDU had managed to win two of the three Rajya Sabha seats in the bypolls with the RJD’s support, Nitish had declared that “every door was open” for him to challenge the BJP in Bihar.

Political experts feel that the logic behind the JDU and the RJD coming together is to control the rise of the BJP that bagged 31 of the 40 seats in the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Nand Kishore Yadav, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, termed the grand alliance “immoral.”

“Nitish has got the mandate against the bad governance of 15 years under non-Congress politics. By joining hands with them, he has insulted the mandate,” he said.