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Day before vote count, all quiet at 1, Anne Marg
November 21, 2005 17:34 IST
A day before counting of votes for the 14th Bihar Assembly began, it was all quiet at 1, Anne Marg, the official residence of the Chief Minister.
Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad and wife Rabri Devi, who had been at the helm for the past 15 years till being unseated after a hung assembly verdict in the February polls, were taking a break after the grind of the stretched-out elections.
But even while resting, the shrewd politician, was in constant touch with leaders of his alliance partners, sources close to him said.
The RJD-led Secular Democratic Front leaders were busy drawing up a strategy and exploring constitutional provisions to facilitate its installation to power if it emerged as the single largest combination.
"With Buta Singh as Governor, the Railway Minister was hopeful of getting the invitation from the Raj Bhawan to form the government in such a scenario," the sources said.
While Lalu was working out his strategies in Patna, the rival National Democratic Alliance's chief ministerial candidate Nitish Kumar, senior Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav, Bharatiya Janata Party state president Sushil Kumar Modi and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan were away in Delhi.
According to sources, the NDA leaders have already begun discussing the permutations and combinations of power-sharing, expecting the pollsters, who declared Nitish as the favourite among voters this time, to hit the bull's eye for once.
NDA leaders were working out a consensus over the names of some leaders being discussed for different posts in the next government, the reports said.
Meanwhile, with characteristic bluntness, Lalu has dismissed the pollsters.
Sources close to him said he described the poll predictions as a "bundle of lies."
"Despite an adverse situation, we had won 75 seats last time. Our vote share has consolidated this time around. We carried out a well coordinated campaign and expect better results," said RJD spokesman Shivanand Tiwari.
RJD sources maintained that the 'MY' (Muslim-Yadav) combination would click again.
But low Muslim turnout in the first two phases of the polls on account of the holy month of Ramzan may impact the party's chances. A section of the minorities also voted for the Muslim candidates fielded by the LJP, they said.
There is considerable talk in Patna over the fairness of the election process this time. "It has been fair for all parties," said Tiwari.