Time for Congress to decide on alliance: Lalu Prasad

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Patna, March 1 (IANS) The responsibility of defeating communal forces is not of the Rashtriya Janata Dal alone, and it’s time for the Congress to decide on an alliance, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said Saturday.

“Time for alliance has ended. Now it’s time to go to ground for political battle,” Lalu Prasad said after arriving here Friday night from Delhi, where he was trying to finalise his party’s alliance with the Congress but no decision was taken.

On Saturday, the former Bihar chief minister told the media that he was still keen on an alliance with the Congress.

He said he offered it 11 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and one seat to the Nationalist Congress Party, while his party will contest 28 seats.

He said now it was time “for them to decide”.

“I am supporter of the Congress and India. My party is still working with a mission to stop communal forces from coming to power,” Lalu Prasad said.

He made it clear that the RJD will start preparations for the general elections.

“Now, there is no time to visit Delhi any more. I will focus and concentrate to get ready for poll campaigns,” he said.

He said it was not possible to hold talks on alliances while sitting in Delhi.

“We will be in touch over telephone,” he said.

Lalu Prasad said he was still hopeful of an alliance with the Congress, but said the responsibility for an alliance to defeat communal forces was not of his party alone.

According to an RJD leader close to Lalu Prasad, seat-sharing talks with the Congress could not be finalised because two constituencies were the main bone of contention between the two parties.

Although the Congress agreed to contest from 15 seats in Bihar and the RJD on 25 seats, the former is said to be eyeing the Madhubani and East Champaran constituencies and Lalu is in a dilemma over it, the RJD leader said.

RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui wants to contest from Madhubani as he had narrowly lost there to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2009.

Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmad is equally keen to be fielded in Madhubani as he had won in 2004.

Lalu Prasad recently suffered a jolt when 13 of his party’s 22 legislators turned rebel. However, nine of the 13 returned to the party after a promise that they will be given party tickets for the Lok Sabha polls.

“Any wrong step by Lalu may trigger another crisis within his party,” an RJD leader said.

Lalu Prasad’s aides say he has learnt a bitter lesson since the last elections when he offered only three seats to the Congress.

In December, after being released on bail in the fodder scam, Lalu Prasad, who broke his alliance with the Congress in 2009, said he would not repeat the mistake.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-RJD-Lok Janshakti Party combine won 29 seats. But fighting separately in 2009, the RJD got only four seats, the Congress two and the LJP none.

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