UPA partners are inching closer towards stitching up an alliance aimed at putting up a joint fight against the NDA combine for the 40 Lok Sabha seats of Bihar.
Seat sharing talks between the two political bigwigs – Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan – are approaching a keen phase, with the mood being conciliatory in both camps.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Prasad said that it makes sense for the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) to firm up a pre-poll alliance, since the two parties had had to come together in any case in the post-poll phase.
On conditions of anonymity, a senior LJP functionary said that a pre-poll arrangement with the RJD was very much on the anvil.
The LJP – which contested eight and won four Lok Sabha seats in 2004 – has been bargaining hard. The party has been pitching in with claims to contest double the number of seats and has already announced candidates for 16 seats. In the last elections, the Congress had contested four and won three, while the RJD had contested 26 and won 22.
As part of the “secular alliance” the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the CPI (M) had contested one seat each.
In view of the changed political circumstances in the state, the RJD is apparently willing to scale down its position, while agreeing to allocate more Lok Sabha seats in the LJP kitty. The Congress is relatively a smaller player in the state.
After the one-to-one meeting between Prasad and Paswan at the latter’s residence on Friday, a series of informal tripartite confabulations (including Congress leaders) are expected to be held over next weeks. Given the high stakes involved, the talks are expected to go down to the wire.