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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Congress-RJD ties sour over Lalu diktat on candidates

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 24, 2014
First Published: 00:36 IST(24/3/2014) | Last Updated: 00:47 IST(24/3/2014)

The relations between the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar appear to have turned irrevocably bitter just before the Lok Sabha elections.

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A section of Bihar Congress workers is up in arms against the state leadership for allowing RJD chief Lalu Prasad to “dictate terms” on the seat-sharing deal – HT first reported the development on March 22 – and has demanded that the ties be snapped immediately.

Many senior leaders from the state have briefed the party high command about Prasad’s “game-plan” to finish off the Congress in the state.

They alleged that Prasad first “ensured” that there was no alliance between the Congress and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and then “pushed” LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan to the BJP camp.

“His idea was to isolate the Congress and then force us to agree to his terms and conditions for an alliance,” one of the leaders said. Senior Bihar Congress leader Kishore Kumar Jha said, “Barring one or two constituencies, we stand no chance in the other seats,”

A large number of Bihar Congress leaders have attacked the state unit chief Ashok Choudhary. “His role is doubtful. He had personal interest in the alliance with the RJD. Lalu had promised him a berth in the state legislative council in return for the one-sided seat-sharing deal,” alleged a Bihar Congress leader.

Choudhary was among the nine candidates, who were elected unopposed to the Bihar legislative council. The Congress has only four members in the Bihar assembly and needed the RJD’s support to ensure Choudhary’s election to the legislative council.

The tie-up has also resulted in the exodus of “committed and dedicated” Congress workers who were keen on seeing the party’s revival in the state.

Congress sources said the central leadership, particularly party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, has taken note of developments, and to show its displeasure, the Congress might stay away from joint campaign with Prasad.

Party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul are expected to begin their poll campaign in Bihar from Sasaram and Aurangabad next week. The party has fielded Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar from Sasaram and former Delhi Police commissioner Nikhil Kumar from Aurangabad.

The first indication of the Congress’ discontent came after it denied ticket to Prasad’s son-in-law Chiranjeev Rao from Gurgaon.

The move came despite Prasad “putting in a word” for his son-in-law. In the past, Congress sources said all his recommendations for allocation of tickets in different states were accepted by the party.

A Congress functionary said, “His clout with the Congress leadership has certainly diminished. The way he treated our party in seat sharing has been taken seriously by the leadership.”


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