Under strain,Lalu says we would be one after elections

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's status as the UPA heavyweight is being challenged by not only LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan but also even the Congress.

Written by JP Yadav | New Delhi | Published: February 12, 2009 5:04:34 pm

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s status as the UPA heavyweight is being challenged by not only LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan but also even the Congress,as both the UPA partners are adamant to contest more seats in Bihar compared to last time.

Much to the dislike of the Bihar chieftain,both LJP and Congress have justified their demand for more by communicating in clear terms to Lalu that their political graph in the state has gone up while that of the RJD has declined,sources said.

That Lalu was under severe pressure over seat sharing; even from the Congress side was evident from his remarks at a Railway function in Bihar on Tuesday with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi by his side. “We are one. Even if we develop differences we would be one after the polls”,Lalu said.

Sources have it that while Paswan was obstinate to contest nothing less than 16 seats in alliance,the Congress too was firm on fielding candidates on at least 7. Of the 40 seats in Bihar,the RJD had contested 28,LJP 8 and Congress just 4. “Our demand for 7 seats is justified. It’s no secret that RJD’s political fortunes in Bihar has taken a beating and that of the Congress has received a boost”,said a Congress leader.

While Lalu was prepared for a hard bargain from Paswan but the Congress’ demand has surprised him. Leaders close to Lalu said that their leader was exasperated with the heightened demands of the two allies. “If we concede the demands then we will have to sacrifice some of our sitting seats. How can we do that”,remarked an RJD leader.

Asked over it,LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan said that the after delimitation the demography of seats have changed and thereby the “sitting getting” formula cannot be applies this time.

The most troubling aspect for Lalu however was that Paswan was unwilling to sit across the table for seat sharing talks. Unlike the past even the Congress leadership was learnt to be ignoring Lalu’s request to get Paswan to sit and resolve the issue. Sources in the RJD feel that the Congress could have instigated Paswan to remain fixated over his demand and use it to extract more seats for themselves too.

Talking to The Indian Express,Paswan however said that he was very much interested for alliance between UPA partners in Bihar but at the same time wanted the RJD to be magnanimous like the DMK in Tamil Nadu. “In Tamil Nadu the DMK contests only 16 of the 39 seats and leaves the rest for it allies. Lalu should follow the same formula. If we contest together then the NDA would be nowhere in Bihar”,Paswan said.

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