Ten days after he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vowed to never part ways with the party again, Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad on Thursday met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi triggering speculation about an impending patch-up between the former allies.
While officially the Congress did not divulge the details of Mr. Prasad’s meeting with Mr. Gandhi, a party general secretary confirmed later in the day that the two had indeed met. Incidentally, following his meeting with Ms. Gandhi late last month, the former Bihar Chief Minister had described Rahul Gandhi as “million times better” than the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
The meeting between Mr. Prasad and Mr. Gandhi assumes significance as he has been making frenetic efforts, ever since his release on bail in mid-December in one of the fodder scam cases, to mend the fences with the Congress. He had snapped ties with the Congress in 2009 and admitted following his meeting with Ms. Gandhi that it was a mistake and vowed never to repeat it.
Party sources indicated that Mr. Prasad was with Mr. Gandhi for a few minutes and two would have discussed the prospects of a prospective alliance. Mr. Prasad for his part has been suggesting that the two combine with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party since their alliance had proved very effective and bagged 29 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in 2004. In 2009, on fighting separately, the three parties had managed only six seats between them.
But, the Congress does not appear to be in any hurry to announce an alliance. "We have already constituted an Alliance Committee headed by A.K. Antony which would take a call on all the alliances," the general secretary said.
While Mr. Prasad has been eager to join hands with the Congress once again, the party has also been getting regular feelers from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who ever since parting of ways with the BJP, has also been trying equally hard to muster political support.
The Congress is weighing the prospects and is not keen on opening its cards on the alliance in Bihar just yet. The decision, the general secretary said, would be announced “at the right time”.