New Delhi:  Dismissing the criticism over its decision to ally with a “tainted” Lalu Prasad Yadav, Congress today said that its tie-up was not with any individual but with the “secular” RJD.

“Our alliance is with a party and not just an individual. It’s about the values of a party and not about specific merits and demerits of an individual. We have not made Lalu Prasad a member of our party,” Congress spokesperson Shashi Tharoor said here.

“The alliance is with a party and we believe that RJD is a secular party. We have no problem in aligning with RJD as a party,” he said.

Tharoor also indicated that Congress would not mind its top leaders, including party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, sharing the dais with the RJD on the campaign trail for the upcoming polls.

To a question on whether Gandhi, who had lashed out against an ordinance which aimed to protect convicted lawmakers, would share the dais with Prasad, Tharoor said, “As we proceed towards the poll, we will look at it… about sharing the dais.”
Pressed further on the issue, Tharoor targeted BJP, saying that there were convicted ministers in Narendra Modi’s cabinet in Gujarat. He reminded that Prasad’s conviction is yet not final and has been challenged in a higher court.

At the same time, he asserted that the law applied equally to everybody, be it Lalu Prasad or somebody else.

In a tongue-in-cheek remark, he said, “The whiteness of a shirt will depend on the detergent, whereas we are talking about deterrent.”

After protracted negotiations over seat-sharing in Bihar, RJD, NCP and Congress yesterday reached an agreement to form a ‘secular alliance’ for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections under which they will contest 27, 1 and 12 seats, respectively.

Free Press Journal