Lalu Prasad pushes for ‘secular alliance’, Congress wants time
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad pushed strongly for a “secular alliance” for Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats during a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday.
The Congress chief is understood to have told Prasad that she would get back to him after the party’s committee constituted to look into poll alliances meets.
Besides the RJD and Congress, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the likely partners in the secular formation proposed by Prasad ahead of the general elections due in May.
“Communal and fascist forces are on a mission to Balkanize the country. Secular and like-minded political parties must urgently come together to fight their evil designs,” Prasad, who is out on bail in a corruption case, told HT.
The Congress faces a dilemma over a poll arrangement with the RJD, especially after Prasad’s conviction in a multi-crore fodder scam case. The Congress has also been toying with the idea of an alliance with the Janata Dal (United). Prasad’s arch foe Nitish Kumar heads the JD (U) government in Bihar.
“I sought time from the Congress president for detailed talks on firming up a pre-poll alliance in Bihar,” the former CM said. Expressing “deep regret” that fewer than five Lok Sabha seats were left to the Congress by the RJD-LJP combine in the 2009 general elections, Prasad talked of an “honourable” offer this time.
Prasad, disqualified from the Lok Sabha after his conviction, recently heaped praises on Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to be the Congress PM candidate, saying Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and BJP PM’s nominee Narendra Modi couldn’t hold a candle to the Congress vice-president.
Refusing to go into the details of the proposed seat-sharing arrangement, Prasad said, “Numbers are not important. The need of the hour is for the secular forces to come together and provide a fitting response to threats from communal forces.”
“Probity in public life” is expected to be the main component of the Congress’ 2014 campaign. Rahul’s stance against corruption –pushing for lokpal, calling for a rethink on Adarsh housing scam report and trashing the ordinance that sought to protect convicted lawmakers -– is likely to complicate matters for Prasad. If Congress leaders share stage with “tainted” Prasad, its anti-corruption plank would get diluted, a section of the party feels.
Quizzed on this, Prasad said, “There is no truth to these theories, insinuations and rumors being spread. I’m positive that the secular alliance will work out.”