Cong set to tie up with RJD, LJP

Signs of Congress warming up to Lalu after his recent release on bail

With Lalu Prasad out on bail, an alliance appears to be on the cards among Congress, RJD and LJP for the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.

Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chowdhary on Thursday met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, a day after he held consultations with party chief Sonia Gandhi and briefed both of them about the prevailing political scenario in the state after the break-up of BJP-JD(U) alliance.

Chowdhary’s meeting with the Congress vice-president at his residence took place for half an hour. He had met Sonia Gandhi in Parliament House on Wednesday. 

He was called by both the leaders for a briefing about the situation in the state.

An indication of Congress warming up to the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief was available, when the Congress president called to greet him after he got bail in a fodder scam case.

“Congress president Sonia Gandhi had telephoned me after my release from Ranchi jail. She graciously extended greetings to me and expressed happiness over my release,” Prasad had said in Patna.

Prasad, who was the Railway Minister in the UPA 1 government and is considered very close to the Congress chief, had fallen out during UPA 2 after an acrimony over seat sharing for 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which resulted in break up of the RJD-LJP and Congress alliance. RJD was the second largest constituent in UPA 1 after Congress with 22 seats in Lok Sabha. There is a feeling in Congress that an alliance with RJD and Lok Janshakti Party could repeat the 2004 magic, when the three parties had together walked away with 29 of the 40 seats in the states.

When RJD-LJP broke away from Congress in 2009, the results were disastrous for them. While RJD won four seats, Congress won two and LJP failed to open its account with its chief Ram Vilas Paswan suffering a humiliating defeat in his home turf Hajipur.

Soon after the crushing defeat, both RJD and LJP realised the folly and since then, they have been trying to woo Congress. Lalu Prasad’s RJD had even offered unconditional support to the UPA 2 government from outside. 

However, there have been signals from Congress in the last one year that it was inching closer to NDA alliance partner JD(U), which eventually broke its 17-year-old alliance with |BJP in June this year, opposing the elevation of Narendra Modi.

Probe into cop at Lalu’s feet

Jharkhand Police on Thursday ordered a probe into media pictures showing a police officer washing the feet of Lalu Prasad before the RJD chief went inside a temple while another policeman allegedly carried Lalu’s slippers, a senior police officer said here.

“The probe has been ordered by the police headquarters after publication of photographs in newspapers, showing a sub-divisional police officer pouring water from a mug on the feet of Lalu Prasad and another carrying his slippers,” the police officer said.

The opposition raised the issue in the Assembly earlier in the day. Lalu, who was released on bail in a fodder scam case on Monday from Birsa Munda Central jail, had been to Deori temple, about 40 km from here, the same day to pay obeisance.

After addressing a press conference on Wednesday morning, the former Bihar chief minister went to Rajrappa temple in Ramgarh, about 45 km from here, where the events allegedly unfolded.

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