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Bihar: Sonia to campaign jointly with Lalu, Pawar, Karat

October 11, 2005 02:59 IST

Congress led United Progressive Alliance is leaving no stone unturned for taking on an upbeat Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the upcoming assembly polls in Bihar by going in for a joint campaign by top alliance leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Sonia, also the UPA chairperson, would campaign together with Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat.

Congress sources said in Patna that the leaders would address elections meetings together during the campaign for the first phase of polls on October 18.

Sonia, along with top UPA leaders, will campaign on October 15 in the state.

"Sonia Gandhi will visit on October 15 to campaign in Patna, Gaya, Bhagalpur and other places," a Congress leader said.

The joint election campaign by Sonia and Lalu is being viewed as arising out of electoral compulsion.

Interestingly, last year Lalu had asked Sonia not to campaign in Bihar for the UPA during the parliamentary polls and to leave it to him and his wife Rabri Devi, the then chief minister, and focus on other states in the Hindi heartland instead. Some in Patna see this new development as a sign of Lalu's fear to take on a very confident NDA this time.

Before her visit, central ministers of UPA would jointly campaign for RJD-led Secular Democratic Front candidates in state.

The Congress formally begins its campaign on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Senior party leaders, including Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath would join the campaign later along with Motilal Vohra, Shankarsinh Vaghela and Subodh Kant Sahay.

The young faces in the party, including party members Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jatin Prasad and Navin Jindal, would also campaign for the UPA.

More stories from Bihar

Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna