New Delhi, Jan. 9: Lalu Prasad today called on Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka seeking an alliance with the Congress and declared only “Bihar will stop Narendra Modi”.
The meeting was seen as a “positive signal” by leaders of Lalu Prasad’s RJD as Rahul was seen to be opposed to such a tie-up fearing it could harm his anti-corruption plank. The Bihar leader has been convicted in the fodder scam and is out on bail.
The Congress vice-president met Lalu Prasad with Priyanka by his side at his 11 Tughlak Road residence. C.P. Joshi, the Congress’s Bihar minder, was also present.
“If Narendra Modi has to be stopped, then we (the RJD, the Congress and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP) have to come together. I had stopped the rath of L.K. Advani. Once again, only Bihar only will stop Narendra Modi,” Lalu Prasad said after the meeting that lasted over 30 minutes.
He described the meeting as a “courtesy call” but indicated talks were going on in the right direction and a seat-sharing pact could be clinched before a key AICC meeting on January 17.
“There were no talks on seats today…there is a process in the Congress,” Lalu Prasad said, asked when the deal would be finalised.
The RJD chief had met Sonia last month and today’s talks were seen as a follow-up to address the concerns of Rahul.
Congress sources said Lalu Prasad had sought the meeting with Rahul after being told about the party vice-president’s misgivings.
The former Bihar chief minister claimed, however, that Rahul had called him when he was admitted to AIIMS for a check-up recently. Rahul had wanted to meet him after he got well and he did so today, Lalu Prasad said.
Congress insiders said Rahul, though still not keen on an alliance with the RJD, was buckling under pressure from the old guard, including mother Sonia, who believe it would be mutually beneficial.
Rahul, however, is learnt to be insisting on a face-saver and efforts are on to work out something. One idea is to have Lalu Prasad replaced as president of the RJD.
But RJD leaders rejected the plan vehemently and said Lalu Prasad was their tallest leader. Besides, they argued, he already stands debarred from elections because of the fodder conviction. “Rahul should have no objections. Laluji will not contest elections. He will only campaign,” said an RJD leader.
Asked about the alliance with Paswan, Lalu Prasad said he had held talks and was confident the three-way truck would be sealed in time to stop “the communal forces”.
On the Aam Aadmi Party, he brushed it off as a “media creation”.