Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, said on Sunday that the two parties had strong bonds and that like-minded secular forces should come together to keep the National Democratic Alliance at bay.

“I have a strong bond with Sonia Gandhiji... come what may I will never abandon her,” he said, whose meeting with Ms. Gandhi in New Delhi fuelled speculation that it was related to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s reported plan to seek a CBI inquiry into the alleged job scam in that Ministry during his tenure.

The RJD leader said a secular alliance in Bihar and Jharkhand was the need of the hour to keep the communal forces out. “I discussed the matter [with her] and we are waiting for a positive response,” he said.

The meeting came close on the heels of a recent visit by members of an AICC committee to Jharkhand to assess the ground situation there and find out with whom the party could align. In the Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand, the Congress had entered into an alliance with the JMM, dumping the RJD.