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Cong Appears All Set To Dump RJD In Bihar

With 'go solo' being the mantra for Congress after its success in Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, the party is now set to dump Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal in the Bihar assembly elections
PTI May 31, 2010 10:01 IST
PTI
With 'go solo' being the mantra for Congress after its success in Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, the party is now set to dump Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal in the Bihar assembly elections scheduled later this year.  

An indication to this effect came when All Indian Congress Committee in-charge of the state Jagdish Tytler and Pradesh Congress Committee president Anil Sharma recently met party president Sonia Gandhi and made a strong pitch for not supporting either RJD or Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party for the Rajya Sabha elections in the state.  

The poll process for the Upper House is set to start there on May 31 and conclude on June 17.  

The Congress has only ten members in the state assembly, which has a strength of 243. The RJD has 56 seats and Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP 12. Five seats have fallen vacant in the wake of retirement of R K Dhawan (Congress), Subhas Yadav (RJD), George Fernandes and Ezaj Ali (JD-U) and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP). Dhawan had won with RJD support when both the parties were allies.  

43 votes are required to win one Rajya Sabha seat. As the numbers stand, RJD can get one on its own. Congress can retain its seat only if it strikes a deal with the LJP-RJD combine and solicits independents' votes.  

Paswan, who lost in the last Lok Sabha election, is also likely to contest. The Congress has so far not been as vocal against Paswan as it has been against the RJD chief in the state.  

A senior Congress leader from Bihar, however, said that the party leaders in the state are in favour of maintaining equi-distance from both Lalu Prasad and Paswan keeping in mind the party's long term electoral prospects.  

"We should neither contest the election with their help nor support them," a senior leader said. Both Paswan and Prasad have been maintaining that RJD-LJP alliance is rock solid and will continue.  

The Congress, which had alliance with the RJD in the state and the Centre for almost a decade, broke away with it during Lok Sabha elections last year on the issue of seat sharing.  

Prasad's party, however, extended outside support to the UPA II government after elections. Before the Jharkhand elections in November last year, Lalu Prasad had appealed to Gandhi for an alliance in the tribal state, but Congress preferred a new ally-- Babulal Marandi led Jharkhand Vikas Manch Prajatantrik-- to him.  

This time the Congress' Bihar unit has urged the high command not to support the RJD-LJP combine in next month's polls for five Rajya Sabha and seven legislative council seats saying it could affect the party's prospects in the Assembly polls due later this year. PTI