Special Correspondent

By-elections for Lok Sabha seats

NEW DELHI: The Congress has decided to support the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the Lok Sabha by-elections from Bihar.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi gave assurance to this effect to the CPI national secretary D. Raja here on Friday. Mr. Raja said that he took up the issue with the Congress president at the Iftar hosted by the Prime Minister.

"She has assured that Congress will support us in Nalanda and the CPI(M) in Bhagalpur," Mr. Raja said amid reports that the Congress was likely to extend support to Arun Kumar, contesting as an independent with the blessing of the RJD.

The Congress also assured that party general secretary Digvijay Singh, in-charge of party affairs in the State, would campaign there. The CPI has fielded Gaya Singh while the CPI-M has fielded Subodh Ray for Bhagalpur.

Controversy arose after the RJD too entered Bhaglpur by fielding Shakuni Chouhdhary and not agreeing to go by the 2004 general elections agreement when the seat was left to the CPI(M). The Nalanda seat was left for another UPA ally the Lok Jan Shakti Party, which decided against contesting the by-election and instead extended support to the CPI.