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Alliance issue in Bihar: LJP throws ball in Cong court

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New Delhi: Seeking to position his party in neutral gear on the alliance issue in Bihar ahead of Lok Sabha polls, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan today said it was for the Congress to decide whether the secular alliance in the state will include Lalu Prasad’s RJD or Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).

Sources in LJP have said the party has opened its  channel of communications with JD(U), which is also keen on a tie-up with Paswan’s party.

Nitish Kumar walked out of NDA in June last year bringing to an end his party’s 17 year-old ties with the BJP in protest against Narendra Modi’s elevation.


“Our alliance with Congress is decided as far as we are concerned. Both parties will remain together.As far aligning with JD(U) or RJD is concerned, the LJP has left this decision to Congress.This much is clear for us that we will go with Congress.

“If Congress goes with JD(U), then it will be a Congress-JDU-LJP alliance, if Congress goes with RJD, it will be a Congress-RJD-LJP alliance for Bihar. Whichever of the two party joins the Congress-LJP grouping, it will have strength to stop the march of the BJP in Bihar,” he told PTI in an interview.

This is the first time that Paswan has spoken categorically on the issue of alliance in Bihar amid indications that LJP and JD(U) were warming up to each other.

Two Rajya Sabha MPs from JD(U) Ali Anwar Ansari and Sabir Ali were seen at Paswan’s house during a lunch programme this week.Paswan also attended an event with JD(U) MP K C Tyagi on Saturday giving a call for socialist forces to come together.
Both Prasad and Paswan have met Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the alliance issue but there was no categorical answer from Gandhi about what would be the alliance arrangement in Bihar this time.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had walked out of RJD-LJP alliance in a huff after it was offered only three seats to contest by Prasad.

Congress, which had initially been demanding 10 to 15 seats had finally scaled down its demand to five seats but it was rejected by the RJD chief, who recently rued his then decision, saying it was a “mistake” on his part.

Paswan, whose party LJP had fought the last Lok Sabha election in alliance with RJD and drew a blank in the 12 seats it contested, made it clear that while he is keen on aligning with Congress, he won’t mind deserting Prasad’s party if Congress chose to go with JD(U).

Asked if there was a difference of opinion in LJP over the issue of alliance, the LJP chief said, “Yes, in our party also there are two opinions. While some say that we should have a tie-up with JD(U), the others believe that our alliance with RJD should continue.”

“It is not that any particular view is predominant. There are both views in the party. That is why I have placed all these things before Congress.The role of Congress and LJP will be key in Bihar.

“They will be a strong force irrespective of whether the two parties align with RJD or JDU,” he said.
In Congress, two views on the issue already exist.
While a section believes that Congress and RJD with LJP is a natural alliance and will be a good combination against the challenge posed by Narendra Modi’s BJP, some leaders close to Rahul Gandhi feel that aligning with “convicted” Lalu Prasad will damage party’s effort to bring the anti-corruption image the party is seeking to build.

Prasad met Rahul this month, who had said that he will go by the party’s decision on the issue.
Some Congress leaders have a soft corner for Prasad, who was the first political leader to strongly back the Congress President on her foreign origin controversy in the run-up to 2004 Lok Sabha elections and earlier.

There is a view in the LJP as well that Congress may find it difficult to go with Prasad’s party after the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party as a political force insisting on clean politics and attacking both BJP and Congress on corruption issue.

Paswan, whose party LJP had fought the last Lok Sabha election in alliance with RJD and drew a blank in the 12 seats it contested, made it clear that while he is keen on aligning with Congress, he won’t mind deserting Prasad’s party if Congress chose to go with JD(U).

Asked if there was a difference of opinion in LJP over the issue of alliance, the LJP chief said, “Yes, in our party also there are two opinions. While some say that we should have a tie-up with JD(U), the others believe that our alliance with RJD should continue.”

“It is not that any particular view is predominant. There are both views in the party. That is why I have placed all these things before Congress.The role of Congress and LJP will be key in Bihar.

“They will be a strong force irrespective of whether the two parties align with RJD or JDU,” he said.
In Congress, two views on the issue already exist.
While a section believes that Congress and RJD with LJP is a natural alliance and will be a good combination against the challenge posed by Narendra Modi’s BJP, some leaders close to Rahul Gandhi feel that aligning with “convicted” Lalu Prasad will damage party’s effort to bring the anti-corruption image the party is seeking to build.

Prasad met Rahul this month, who had said that he will go by the party’s decision on the issue.
Some Congress leaders have a soft corner for Prasad, who was the first political leader to strongly back the Congress President on her foreign origin controversy in the run-up to 2004 Lok Sabha elections and earlier.

There is a view in the LJP as well that Congress may find it difficult to go with Prasad’s party after the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party as a political force insisting on clean politics and attacking both BJP and Congress on corruption issue.

Asked whether AAP factor could weigh on Congress-LJP alliance with RJD, Paswan said, “We have no comment to offer on that.Congress is best judge of all this. We will go with whatever party they decide in Bihar. Both issues of communalism and corruption are equally important.

“Congress can judge it best which of the two it wants to keep in priority while fighting the elections,” he said.

At the same time, he stated that the “the rising graph of the BJP has got halted in the last one month”.

Political analysts believe that much of Paswan’s antipathy to RJD is because of a realisation within the LJP that RJD won’t give it a good number of seats this time.

Party leaders are incensed at recent statements of RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh that Paswan should first declare candidates and then seek seats and that LJP should concentrate on winning more seats than contesting more seats.

Asked about it, Paswan said, “We have yet not said how many seats we want.LJP resented when some of the leaders (of RJD) said that it should be given three-four seats and it should first decide candidate.The good thing is that neither I nor Lalu Prasad have made any comments on this issue.”

As far as seat sharing is concerned, Paswan said it will be discussed when all three parties of the secular alliance will sit together.

“Last time LJP had contested 12 seats. RJD, which had decided to contest on 25 leaving three for Congress, finally contested on all 28 seats after the alliance broke off. If the three parties come together, both of us will have to adjust Congress,” he said without elaborating.

Rahul Gandhi has said that if the alliance does nothappen on respectable terms, the party won’t mind going it all alone in Bihar like it did the last time, when it won two seats. RJD had won four Lok Sabha seats and LJP none.

JD(U)-BJP combine had swept the last general elections in Bihar winning 32 of the 40 seats together.In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Congress RJD and LJP contested together and won 29 seats.