After RJD chief Lalu Prasad met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, the prospect of an RJD-LJP-Congress tie-up in Bihar looked brighter though nothing has been clinched as yet.
Lalu himself appeared to be rather upbeat and said “he will be meeting the Congress president again to discuss the details of an alliance in Bihar”.
Though there was no confirmation from the Congress’ end, the fact that Lalu was granted an audience at 10 Janpath was indicative of a possible tie-up. The RJD camp was hopeful that it would scotch rumours of a possible Congress-JD(U) alliance with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar calling the shots.
In 2009, the Congress and the RJD parted ways in a move that proved disastrous for both Lalu and the Congress in the state. The RJD has already reached an understanding with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, though the arrangement still appears a bit rocky.
This being the context, the signals emanating from the local Congress unit was rather surprising. Said the party’s state chief Ashok Chaudhary: “We are preparing to contest in all 40 seats as per the party vice-president’s direction.”
Lalu, however, is pitching hard for an alliance with the Congress, citing the 2004 elections in which the combination won 29 seats in the state. In the 2009 polls, when the Congress chose to go it alone, the RJD could win only four seats and the LJP failed to open its account.
Convicted and out on bail in a fodder scam case, Lalu seems desperate to be back into the Congress camp and has publicly acknowledged that it was a great mistake on his part to break the alliance with the party. “A larger secular alliance is the demand of the day to fight the nefarious design of communal forces Seat sharing won’t come in its way,” he said.
Political analysts say Bihar parties are vying for an alliance with the Congress as it still has some eight percent of the votes in the state.
An alliance with the Congress -- or a secular combination -- could also be a deciding factor in winning over minority voters as well as attracting floating voters.
Recently, Nitish joined hands with former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, which hardly has any presence in Bihar.
There is, however, speculation that a group of Congress leaders are trying to build an alliance stitching together the JD (U), LJP and the Left. They feel that since the LJP and JD(U) won’t align with the BJP, their only choice is the UPA.