Cong deal with RJD, LJP almost final

With nearly a month left before the Election Commission issues notification for the Lok Sabha elections, the cloud of uncertainty over alliances in Bihar continues to hover. Notwithstanding Nitish Kumar’s claim of holding “no formal talks with the Congress”, the grand old party is driving a hard bargain with the Janata Dal-United (JD-U)as well as the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD)’s Lalu Prasad.

“We are keeping all options open,” said Union minister Jairam Ramesh during his Patna visit, refusing to shed more light on whom the Congress would align with – the JD-U or the RJD.

Deccan Herald has, however, reliably learnt that a deal with Lalu is in its final stages.

“There are some hitches related to a couple of seats. Once it’s thrashed out in consultation with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan, the formal deal will be sealed in February,” said a senior Congress leader who did not wish to be identified. As per the formula being worked out through back-room parleys, the Congress is likely to get to contest 12 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, while the LJP will get seven constituencies. One seat (Katihar) will be left for Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar, who is at present Minister of State for Agriculture in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet.

“The rest 20 seats will go into the RJD’s kitty. A broad consensus has emerged on the new alliance, which will have the RJD, Congress, LJP and the NCP,” said the source, adding that the formidable combination would be in direct fight with the BJP, something similar to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Nitish, who is not willing to concede more than six seats to the Congress if an alliance with the ruling party at the Centre takes place, will eventually be left alone as talks have hit a roadblock, with neither sides willing to scale down their demands.
DH News Service

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