A day after its chief Lalu Prasad was disqualified as MP following his indictment in the fodder scam case, the Rashtriya Janata Dal put a brave face on the crisis and sought an alliance with the Congress for the Lok Sabha election scheduled for early next year.
The RJD has been lobbying hard with the Congress ever since the ruling JD(U) in Bihar parted ways with the BJP in June, perhaps fearing political isolation if the Congress were to align with the JD(U).
RJD’s electoral ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Ram Vilas Paswan, has also signalled its inclination for an electoral partnership with the Congress.
The mood of despondence that was evident on Tuesday at the residence of the RJD chief changed to one of reconciliation on Wednesday.
“Mr. Prasad’s disqualification is not a separate penalty. This is the result of a law. We were expecting it the day the ordinance was passed. Our party’s weakness is the cause of our political problems. Only when we strengthen the party will our problems end,” RJD MP Jagdanand Singh told The Hindu.
Party workers, he said, were clear about their role in the 2014 elections. “Yes, we are all sad. But we have not allowed the situation [Mr. Prasad’s disqualification] to weaken us, but have converted it into anger. The party workers are angry. So are the voters,” he said.
For months before his indictment Mr. Prasad had maintained that the RJD would strive for an alliance with the Congress, even “compromising” on seats if required. During the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the two parties fought separately as they failed to resolve their seat sharing differences. On Wednesday, Ms. Rabri Devi after a meeting with Mr. Paswan, said her party’s decision to go it alone in 2009 was “a mistake.”
“We are not waiting for the Congress’s stand,” Mr. Singh said. “If the Congress wants to weaken secularism, it is their lookout. Today, you have bipolar politics. Except the RJD, every party has joined hands with the BJP. But neither Narendra Modi nor Nitish Kumar is a factor in Bihar,” Mr. Singh said.
Another RJD leader Gulam Ghaus said secular forces must come together.
“We are ready for some compromise with a secular party. Currently, Nitish Kumar’s graph is down. And there is a strong feeling among the people that Mr. Prasad was framed. Our strategy for 2014 is ready. We are prepared to face this adverse situation.”
Ms. Rabri Devi is set to tour the State after the Chhath puja celebrations, when she is expected to project Mr. Prasad as a victim of political conspiracy.
Her son Tejaswi has already started his campaign to mobilise youth.
Meanwhile, the LJP is treading carefully.
“We have great regard for the Congress and Sonia Gandhi. We want to have an alliance with them. As of today, the RJD-LJP vote is intact. After the elections, the options for us are the Congress or a third front. We can’t go with the BJP,” Mr. Paswan told The Hindu.
“The third front too cannot form a government without the support of the Congress. The secular parties have to stay together after the elections.”