Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad on Sunday relented on his deadline to Congress to accept his offer of 11 Lok Sabha seats and instead appealed to Sonia Gandhi to agree to the formula, asserting he would deliver results in Bihar and Jharkhand in the general elections.
Lalu, who had asked the Congress to communicate its acceptance before the RJD parliamentary board meeting in Patna on Sunday, apparently softened his stand, appealing to Gandhi to agree to 12 seats being offered to the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.
"Through you (media), I appeal to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, to agree to the 12 seats being offered to the Congress and the NCP in Bihar, and leave it to me to deliver the results in Bihar and Jharkhand in the general elections," he told reporters in Patna.
Lalu was briefing the media after a nearly two-hour meeting of the RJD parliamentary board at former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi's official residence in Patna.
"I have no feeling of disrespect towards Sonia Gandhi," he said, appealing to her to ink an alliance with his party. "I promise to you I will stop the communal forces from coming to power at the Centre," Lalu said.
Defending the 12-seat offer, the RJD supremo argued that he had to accommodate his party leaders and workers who too wanted to contest the elections.
Lalu, in a veiled threat to the Congress, in the eventuality of it not concurring to the proposals, said, "It is not my responsibility alone to stop communal forces... others too should be accommodating."
The RJD chief said that he went by winnability of the candidates before arriving at his formula for seat sharing with the Congress and the NCP and this idea should be accepted by the allies too.
"Merely contesting the polls should not be the motto, but winnability should also be given due consideration," the RJD supremo said, adding that the allies should also ensure transfer of votes to the winning candidates among them.
He lashed out at local Congress leaders for misguiding the party leadership, including Sonia Gandhi, against alliance with the RJD in Bihar and appealed to Congress' national leaders to read through the designs of local leaders and convince the party.
The RJD supremo recalled that secular parties had lost badly in 2009 general elections due to split of votes. On the status of alliance with the Congress, he admitted that as of the day he had not received any reply from the Congress leadership, but the chapter was not closed as yet.
He rued that the LJP had walked out of the alliance and joined communal forces.
Lalu said that as far as he was concerned he was hopeful of an alliance with the Congress and will continue to woo its leadership about firming up pre-poll tie in the days to come.
Referring to his "endeavour" to stop the communal forces led by the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from coming to power at the Centre, the former Bihar CM claimed though he had tried to cobble up a broad secular alliance, it was not to be as the Left went ahead with the Third Front move.
"The secular forces stand divided at present against the juggernaut of the communal forces," Lalu said and urged all anti-communal forces to come on board to prevent Modi from taking over power at the Centre.
Claiming that the Gujarat CM posed a threat to the unity and integrity of the country and a situation like the post-independence phase could be replicated if the former succeeded in his designs, the RJD supremo urged the forces to collectively take on Modi to ensure that peace and communal amity prevailed in the country. "Without peace and communal amity, development means nothing," he said.
Earlier, the RJD parliamentary board met for nearly two hours where the leaders authorised Lalu to take a final call on alliance with the Congress and NCP, besides deciding the candidates for the general elections, the RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said.
"The RJD parliamentary board has unanimously authorised Lalu Prasad to take decision on alliance and distribution of tickets to party candidates for the general elections," he said after emerging out of the meeting.
Image: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav