Shakeel Ahmed offers to abide by Cong decision

Says will forego his claim on seat to save secular alliance 

With his party’s talks with Lalu Prasad’s RJD for a tie-up in Bihar coming under strain, Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed, who was eyeing a Lok Sabha seat in the state, said Sunday that he was willing to forego his claim on it to save the ‘secular’ alliance.

The remarks came as party sources said that back channel talks with Nitish Kumar’s JD-U have also begun. There is a view that Congress talking to JD-U again may be a pressure tactic to make RJD fall in line as it is playing hard ball.

AICC general secretary Ahmed, who had won the Madhubani seat in 2004, was keen to contest this time but RJD is not inclined to spare it as its leader Abdul Bari Sidiqqui, who was the runner-up from Madhubani in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, is in no mood to leave the seat.

Ahmed had come third from the seat won by BJP’s Hukumdeo Narai Yadav in the last Lok Sabha polls.

“When the issue is big and stakes are high for national interest, individuals do not matter. Any secular alliance should not break due to my claim. I am a disciplined soldier of the party and will abide by whatever decision is taken by the party,” Ahmed said.His remarks came after he met the party’s screening committee chairman for Bihar elections P C Chacko. 

Congress fought the 2004 Lok Sabha election in alliance with RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and the alliance won 29 of the 40 Parliamentary seats.

Congress won three seats then including Madhubani, Sasaram and Aurangabad. In 2009, Congress fought alone as its alliance for the Lok Sabha polls broke with RJD and LJP. The party won only two seats retaining Sasaram and losing the other two. The other seat it won was Kishanganj.

While Paswan aligned with BJP this time, RJD asked Congress to decide on its offer of contesting 11 Lok Sabha seats.

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