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Cong all set to seal alliance with Lalu’s RJD

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 19, 2013
First Published: 01:21 IST(19/12/2013) | Last Updated: 01:23 IST(19/12/2013)

The Congress is no longing harping on going it alone in Bihar and is all set to seal a pre-poll alliance with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) with an announcement expected anytime soon, party sources told HT.

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The modalities of the alliance were worked out on Wednesday during a meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and state unit chief Ashok Chaudhary.

There were divergent views in the Bihar Congress over the alliance. While the majority was in favour, a section demanded a tie-up with chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United, which earlier this year ended a 17-year-old partnership with the BJP. The Congress is already providing outside support to the Nitish Kumar government. There was also a third section, comprising mostly young leaders, who favoured the “go-it-alone” policy.

Sonia, on her part, was inclined towards the RJD, for Lalu had been one of the first to defend her in the foreign origin issue. She was among the first to call him up and greet him on his release from jail on Monday.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, was in favour of the JD(U).

Eventually, the high command decided to go by the majority view, which felt there was crystallization of RJD’s support base and a surge in Lalu’s popularity after his conviction in the fodder scam. This section also felt that an alliance between the RJD, Congress and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janashakti Party would be a formidable one that could repeat or even better its 2004 performance, when it won 32 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

Having come a cropper in the last round of assembly elections in four crucial states, the Congress has been forced to revise its strategy on alliances. Sources said the decision to seal the deal with Lalu came after All India Congress Committee secretaries, in their feedback report after visiting all 40 parliamentary constituencies in Bihar, acknowledged the overwhelming demand from Congress workers and leaders for an alliance with the RJD.

The possible alliance between the Congress and RJD is expected to virtually push Nitish to the fence.

The main fight would then be between the RJD-led alliance and the BJP.

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