The Congress’ alliance talks hanged in the balance on Monday with RJD chief Lalu Prasad hitting the campaign trail in Bihar and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav ruling out a tie-up with the party.
The indecision in the Congress camp seemed to have taken a heavy toll on its alliance talks in Bihar, with prospective allies losing patience and virtually leaving the party to its old ways.
Making no bones about its political trajectory in the run-up to the general elections, Sharad said his party would be working towards strengthening the 11-party third front alliance and was not interested to go with the Congress. That the dangling of “special status to Bihar” by the Congress-led UPA cannot persuade JD(U) into a pre-poll alliance was made clear by Sharad, who said: “If Seemandhra could be given the status why not Bihar? They should have given it alongside.”
By calling the demand for special status a long struggle that his party and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had undertaken, Sharad underscored that it was not something that would come by easily and certainly not before the polls.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is said to have been entertaining hopes of a tie-up with the JD(U), because of which his party’s alliance talks with the RJD was not finalised. But now that the 11-party alliance has been announced, Sharad rules out revisiting the issue. Now, a senior Congress claims that such a decision could have opened a Pandora’s box. “Other states, especially West Bengal, too would have demanded the same and created a ruckus about it. The scope for a post-poll alliance with the JD(U) always remains,” he said.
Congress leaders also insist that Lalu will fall in line, “wait and see, the alliance will be forged soon” being the refrain.
But in Bihar, an irritated Lalu hit the road, stating that he couldn’t wait for the Congress to make up its mind.
The RJD has refused to give the Congress more than 11 seats. The Congress hasn’t asked just for the seats that Lalu had kept aside for Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, but also for some winning seats. Lalu was ready to part with only a few reserved seats.