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Ending all speculation about a possible JD(U)-Congress tie-up for the coming Lok Sabha elections, Bihar chef minister Nitish Kumar has said the party has never sought an alliance with the Congress. But his reference to LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan as “a gentleman” appeared to leave room for a possible JD(U)-LJP pre-poll tie up.
Ever since the JD(U) had split from the NDA, expectation had been rife about its leaning towards the Congress.
Indeed, the party appeared to be inching closer to Congress on the issue of special status for Bihar and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's opposition to the ordinance that sought to protect convicted lawmakers from immediate disqualification.
But on Monday, weeks after attacking the UPA government over its failure to grant special status to the state, Kumar categorically ruled out the possibility of a tie-up.
“There has been absolutely no talk at any level. It is baseless,” he said on the sidelines of his weekly Janata darbar. “So far, we do not have any electoral understanding with any party. We only have a broad consensus with Babulal Marandi-led JVM(P) for working together on political issues. But there has been no talk of seat sharing yet.”
About Paswan, Kumar said even though there were no formal talks with the LJP either, he had always had a respect for him. “In February 2005, we wanted him to be the chief minister. The efforts to have him with us have been there. But the final call has to be taken by him.”
Kumar’s declaration is expected to play into the hands of RJD chief Lalu Prasad. But Prasad’s relief would be tinged with discomfort, since he is mulling a tie-up with both the Congress and the LJP. The Congress had put him on hold, since Rahul Gandhi is wary of an alliance, given Prasad’s conviction in the fodder scam.