The Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are likely to come together to campaign for elections in Bihar.
Declaring that the three parties were joining forces, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said, "There is a likelihood of (RJD chief) Lalu Prasad and (Samajwadi Party chief) Mulayam Singh Yadav coming together. We want (LJP's) Ram Vilas Paswan also to come on board."
"In that case, the entire brigade of secular forces would come together in Bihar," Amar Singh had said on Wednesday.
Paswan agreed and said, "This report is true. I have talked to Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh and Lalu Prasad. These three parties will become an alternative to the communal forces."
Bihar became the focal point in the strained relations between the Congress, which leads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and the RJD and LJP, which are key members of the grouping.
Paswan and Lalu Prasad carved up the 40 seats of Bihar between themselves, leaving only three to the Congress. In retaliation, a miffed Congress said it was fighting 37 seats on its own in Bihar.
Discussing the tensions, Paswan said, "UPA is not just the Congress. It is a conglomerate of 18 parties."
As the UPA threatened to crumble, the Congress appeared to pitch for Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Nitish Kumar, who had on Wednesday spoken out against ally Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi's communal statements.
"...The Congress position is clear about regarding his secular credentials," Congress general secretary M Veerappa Moily said in response to a question about the likelihood that the Samajwadi Party, the LJP and the RJD were coming together.
While the comment triggered speculation that the Congress was trying to win over the JD-U, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seemed unimpressed.
"I will not comment on what somebody wishes. As far as the JD-U is concerned, we are part of the NDA. There's no question of even thinking about the Congress," he said.
In 2004, the Congress had won three of 40 seats in Bihar. Bihar would go to poll in four phases: April 16, 23 and 30 and May 7.