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Congress, Lalu may have poll alliance

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | May 23, 2005 15:22 IST
Last Updated: May 23, 2005 16:05 IST

With an assembly election likely in September/October in Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav may opt for an election alliance with the Congress party and the Communists, who backed his demand for dissolution of the state assembly.

The Congress had spurned the RJD and opted for an alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party for last February's assembly election.

After President A P J Abdul Kalam accepted the Centre's recommendation to dissolve the Bihar assembly on Monday, Lalu told reporters: 'Hum se bhool hui thi. Hamari janata se bhi bhool hui thi, correct kar legi. (I made mistakes. The people made mistakes too and they will correct it).'

A senior Congress leader told "Lalu always wanted another election. It was just a matter of time."

When the National Democratic Alliance started the process of government formation in Bihar and Paswan's LJP headed for a split, Lalu Yadav became active. It was well known that many upper caste LJP legislators were moving towards the Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal-United combine.

For the last month, Paswan has been giving out confusing signals, in a bid to keep his flock of legislators together. On the one hand, he projected himself as being serious in his efforts to form a government in Patna, and on the other hand he was buying time to put pressure on the RJD and Congress.

As Paswan's party spun out of control, Lalu pressurised the Congress and other United Progressive Alliance leaders to dissolve the assembly and call an early election.

As the NDA started inching closer to power in Patna at the weekend, Lalu started moving his men into position in the state.

The transfer of the district magistrates in the Siwan and Gopalgunj districts is seen as part of this game plan. These districts are home to Rashtriya Janata Dal MPs Mohammad Shahabuddin and Sadhu Yadav, both of who have unsavoury reputations.

Shifting the DMs was necessary for RJD henchmen to handle any situation likely to emerge in Patna. This coincided with the shifting of rebel LJP legislators to the BJP-ruled state of Jharkhand. These rebels appeared likely to support the BJP-JD-U combine's claim to form the government.

In the February election, a segment of Lalu's voter base comprising Muslims, Yadavs and Dalits shifted to the LJP, shattering the RJD strongman's dream of ruling Bihar for 20 years.

Lalu believes the Muslim, Yadav and Dalit votes, which deserted him for the LJP, will now come back to the RJD.

"In all likelihood, the RJD and Congress will contest the next election together," one Congress leader told this reporter. "We don't know what will happen to Paswan."

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