Say it is up to it to take a call on an alliance in Bihar

In a fresh call for alliance of secular parties, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan met the former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi at her residence on Tuesday. The two leaders expressed their willingness to ally with the Congress for next year’s general election. The meeting came on a day when Mr. Prasad was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.

Mr. Paswan was accompanied by his son Chirag Paswan to the meeting. Rabri Devi’s sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap were also present. Mr. Paswan said the twoparties were keen on an alliance with the Congress but the ball was in the national party’s court.

“We do want an alliance with the Congress, but we are tired of saying it. Each time we state our position, there is a denial from the other end. It is now up to the Congress to take a call. We do not know whether they want to go it alone or enter into an alliance with the Janata Dal [United],” Mr. Paswan told The Hindu.

The issue of a special status for Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s key demand, also stood altered as special assistance for backward States. In this context, the Congress’s position vis-à-vis the JD(U) was also not clear, he said.

Earlier, the LJP leader met Sonia Gandhi to propose an alliance of secular parties in Bihar.

“I presented her all the pros and cons of going it alone and allying with the RJD-LJP and the JD(U). I told her that the Congress’s alliance with the RJD-LJP is a long-standing secular alliance. Even when the Congress was out of power, we continued to support it. So, if the RJD, the LJP and the Congress come together we can sweep the elections,” he said.

Ms. Rabri Devi, who has picked up the leadership mantle after Mr. Prasad’s imprisonment, also endorsed the idea. “We are still hopeful. All the secular parties should fight the elections together on a common platform.”

She said the RJD had erred on the issue of seat sharing with the Congress during the 2009 election, as a result of which the two parties contested alone.

On Mr. Prasad’s disqualification, she said the RJD chief was a victim of political conspiracy but he still remained “a hero of the people.” She vowed to plunge into the rough and tumble of elections soon enough.

Congress’s denial

Meanwhile, the Bihar Congress denied any change in the party’s position with respect to its strategy for the State.

“The party has not taken any decision yet. The official line is still that we are preparing to contest all the 40 Lok Sabha seats. In the 2009 general election and the 2010 State poll, the party had not gone in for any alliance. Only the All India Congress Committee can decide on any change in this line,” Bihar Congress spokesperson Prem Chand Mishra told The Hindu.