Congress, RJD finally stitch poll deal in Bihar

Lalu keeps 27 of 40 seats, Cong gets 12 and NCP one

Congress, RJD finally stitch poll deal in Bihar

RJD president Lalu Prasad on Wednesday said an alliance with the Congress had been sealed. According to the arrangement, the RJD would contest 27 of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, while the Congress would get 12, leaving one seat (Katihar) for NCP’s Tariq Anwar.

This was announced at a joint press conference by Lalu Prasad and Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary at the RJD office here.

After his numerous deadlines for “a final offer of 11 seats to the Congress” expired, with the grand old party rejecting the offer, Lalu had to eventually blink and soften his stand. On Wednesday, a middle-of-the-road formula was worked out where the RJD doled out one more seat to its alliance partner.

 Sources said it took ample time to seal the deal with Lalu, as Rahul Gandhi was considered a tough negotiator who made it clear to the RJD president that a tie-up with the regional party would be stitched only on the Congress’ terms, and not Lalu’s.

Those who were privy to the talks averred that a compromise formula was worked out after the Congress’ talks with Nitish Kumar could not advance due to stiff resistance put in by JD-U president Sharad Yadav. To maintain unity in the party, Nitish gave up the idea of joining hands with the Congress and made it categorical that “the JD-U, at no cost, can enter into an alliance with the Congress.”

In the meantime, Lalu, who had reportedly told Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel that he won’t give the Congress more than 11 seats at any cost, eventually relented when he was reminded that following his conviction in the fodder scam, he would be left isolated and “disconnected with any national party” if he broke ties with the Congress.

Good sense prevailed on both sides when outgoing Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar met Lalu on Tuesday and sought his support to contest from Bihar’s Aurangabad seat, a constituency represented by Nikhil’s father and former Bihar chief minister Satyendra Narain Sinha nine times.

Congress constituencies

Apart from the two sitting MPs it has from Sasaram and Kishanganj, the Congress has now got Patna Sahib, Hajipur, Nalanda, Samastipur, Gaya, Supaul, Purnia, Balmikinagar, Muzaffarpur and Aurangabad.

NCP leader Tariq Anwar, who left the Congress along with Sharad Pawar in 1999 and is now a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra, will contest from Katihar, a seat he earlier represented as a Congress MP.

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