The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 22 , 2014
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Lalu praises ‘gentleman’ Paswan

New Delhi, Jan. 21 (PTI): RJD chief Lalu Prasad today sought to woo both Congress and LJP, the two parties which have been keeping him on tenterhooks, to put up a joint fight against “communal forces” in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The RJD chief praised the Congress as an “umbrella” organisation of secular forces, while calling LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan a “gentleman”, who was being misguided by people around him.

Lalu also attacked his bęte noire Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, whom he accused of hobnobbing with the BJP all along and rubbished his secular pitch.

“My relationship with Paswan has not soured at all. We talk with each other regularly. Paswan is a gentleman, good human being. But there are some people around him who do not allow him to take a decision on his own,” Lalu said.

“We had an alliance with his party in the past and it remains so even now. My target is communal forces. We will stop communal forces in Bihar like we had done in the past,” he added.

He explained that when he used the word “we” it was not only the RJD, but the Congress and LJP too.

“The three parties must come together to stop communal and fascist forces,” he argued.

Lalu’s response came two days after Paswan threw the ball in the Congress’s court, saying it was for the national party to decide whether a secular alliance in Bihar would include the RJD or the JD(U).

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar yesterday ruled out any talks with the Congress regarding a tie-up for the coming general elections but showered encomiums at Paswan amid buzz that the LJP and the JD(U) were close to formalising an alliance in Bihar.

Slamming Nitish over his secular stance, Lalu said, “Nitish Kumar is not a factor in Bihar. Lalu cannot go with Nitish, a man who was associated for so long with a party that fanned communalism and riots. He (Kumar) remained with the BJP for six years at the Centre and nine years in the state.”

He added that Nitish was now trying to stave off the “stigma” by projecting his separation from the NDA as some sort of Ganga snan (bath in the holy Ganga).

The LJP fought the last Lok Sabha polls in Bihar in alliance with the RJD, while the Congress contested alone.

While the RJD managed to win four seats, LJP drew a blank with even Paswan losing his bastion Hajipur.

The Congress had bagged two seats in 2009.

Both RJD and LJP regretted their decision to keep the Congress out and are now trying to woo the national party.

While Paswan met Congress president Sonia Gandhi a few days ago, Prasad met both the Congress president and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and regretted his decision to give only three of the 40 Lok Sabha seats to the ruling party at the Centre and promised that the mistake won't be repeated.

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