Bihar polls: Lalu wants Nitish to hasten alliance talks
Patna: Amid continuing uncertainty over merger of the 'Janata Parivar', RJD chief Lalu Prasad yesterday sought to break the ice with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, saying he was prepared for both-a merger between his party and JD(U) or a broad-based secular alliance-to take on BJP in the state assembly polls.
Lalu, who after showing initial enthusiasm over the proposed merger between the two Bihar-centric parties, was said to have gone cold on the idea, acknowledged for the first time that lingering uncertainty was making the "environment unpleasant".
"I am now saying we should hurry up over the mega-alliance. JD(U) should talk to Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also about their demands and wishes. If you want merger between Rashtriya Janata Dal and JD(U) then (also) I am ready. Let us let us sit together today itself and finalise it. All issues including that of leadership and chief ministerial candidate will be sorted out once there is finality about the alliance," Prasad, a former Bihar chief minister, told reporters.
One of the major stumbling blocks in the path to a merger between RJD and JD(U) was said to be the latter's insistence on designating Nitish Kumar as the merged entity's chief ministerial face. Lalu has hitherto refused to project Kumar as the future chief minister.
Lalu had also riled Kumar by publicly inviting former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a protege-turned-detractor of the incumbent CM, to join the broad secular alliance mooted by the RJD chief.
Several rounds of talks chaired by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has been nominated to head six off-shoots of the 'Janata Parivar' after the merger, have failed to sort out the differences between the two Bihar satraps.
The six splintered 'Janata Parivar' entities--SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S), INLD and Samajwadi Janata Party-- had in April announced that they had merged and formed a committee to discuss issues relating to the new party's name, election symbol etc. However, there has been no movement forward ever since.
Nitish had even skipped such a meeting in Delhi last month despite being in town, a day after Lalu broached the idea of roping in Manjhi in the proposed alliance.