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Bihar bypoll: Congress abandons RJD
Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | October 27, 2006 00:03 IST
In a major setback to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, the Congress has distanced itself from his Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar and has decided to support the Left candidate in the Lok Sabha by-polls in Nalanda and Bhagalpur.
Congress has taken this decision at a crucial time, as by-elections are to be held on November 6 in both the seats.
It was decided in a meeting headed by state Congress president Sadanand Singh that the party will not support the RJD candidate in Bhagalpur nor support an independent candidate backed by the RJD in Nalanda seat.
"The Congress has decided to support Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate in Bhagalpur and Communist Party of India candidate in Nalanda to check the division of secular forces in bypolls," Prem Chand Mishra, Congress spokesperson said on Thursday evening .
Mishra said that the decision was taken to strengthen the United Progressive Alliance's chances in the bypolls to defeat National Democratic Alliance candidates. He admitted differences with the RJD.
Lalu's bete noir, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party has already announced his support to Left candidates in both seats. Nationalist Congress Party of Union Minister Sharad Pawar also extended support to the Left candidates.
Congress leaders said that Lalu has played against the interest of UPA by fielding his party candidate Shakuni Choudhary in Bhagalpur against CPI(M) candidate Subodh Roy and supported an independent and former Janata Dal(United) MP Arun Kumar in Nalanda seat against CPI candidate Gaya Singh.
Political pundits feel that the Congress's move is part of its strategy to dump Lalu's RJD and build a strong alliance with the Left, LJP and others in Bihar in view of the party's future role.
Earlier, Congress leaders had accused the RJD of violating the 'coalition dharma'.
However, Lalu, has repeatedly stated last week that his party's candidates in Bhagalpur and Nalanda would break the myth of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's popularity.
At present, the ground reality suggests that Lalu's RJD is left isolated in the political battle to prove its support base in Bihar.