Post-poll, RJD mulls new arithmetic with Congress
Post Maharajganj polls,the Rashtriya Janata Dal ( RJD) chief Lalu Prasad may have gota sense of new confidence with the decisive win. But there is anow the big question on whether the former railway minister would be able to sustain his rising stocks in the forthcoming 2014 Lok sabha polls or would he have to re-stitch a pre-poll alliance with his old allies, especially the Congress and the left.Updated: Jun 07, 2013, 12:31 IST
Post Maharajganj polls,the Rashtriya Janata Dal ( RJD) chief Lalu Prasad may have gota sense of new confidence with the decisive win. But there is anow the big question on whether the former railway minister would be able to sustain his rising stocks in the forthcoming 2014 Lok sabha polls or would he have to re-stitch a pre-poll alliance with his old allies, especially the Congress and the left.
In the RJD camp, there is a growing consensus, that it would be a fair deal to go with the Congress in a pre-poll alliance, which could
help in rallying the upper castes as well as minorities and check the division of secular votes. There is the realisation, that lack of such
an arrangement in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, brought down the RJD tally down to four from 22 MPs.
“ We are open to a Congress alliance and have always supported UPA-I and II. But it for the Congress to take a call,” said a senior party leader, insisting that Prasad and other Union ministers from the RJD had an excellent track record in their respective departments be it railways or rural development.
Going by Lalu’s own posturing,the RJD chief has been soft towards the Congress, having defended the grand old party every time corruption charges have hounded UPA II and has emphasised his own his past loyalties to the Congress.
RJD’s present ally, Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan is doing the same to woo the Congress. Both the regional chieftains, having lost much of their political sheen over the last five years in Bihar, have realised that the vote share of both the parties combined with the Congress could well be a
‘strong combination’ in 2014.
The RJD has a vote base of 18.43 % compared to the JD(U)’s 22 %, with experts claiming, the 3% deficit could well be overcome if the Congress plays the catalyst to consolidate the votesof minorities, dalits and upper castes - the section Prasad is wholeheartedly wooing to revive his poltical stakes in Bihar.
But the worrying factor for Prasad in making a deal with the Congress remains the ruling JD(U)’s proximity with the Congress over the special status demand and development plank,a reason why Prasad has been assertive in dismissing the possibility,claiming he would be the happiest man if that happened.
But, the result of the Maharajganj Lok Sabha bypoll, in which the RJD experimented with a new combination of antagonistic castes- Rajputs,
Yadavs, Paswans besides Muslims - could well be a turning point for Prasad, say insiders.
“The margin of win is a clear indication that Lalu is still a mass leader who enjoys huge popularity in the rural parts. In all six assembly
segments, the RJD got 22,000 votes more than the nearest rival.That should be a case in point for Congress to ally,” said, another leader, insisting the RJD would be more generous in allotting seats to the national party, unlike in 2009, when the alliance broke over denial of two extra seats.
Some leaders also claimed talks were going on with Congress leaders and seat arrangement could be worked out if the party receives positive vibes from the national party.
“It’s too early but we hope an alliance takes place as it would be benefit the secular block,” said, Ram Kripal Yadav, a senior leader
and MP. The ball, of course , is in the court of the Congress, which is still to open its cards.