After Rashtriya Janata Dal deal, Congress praises Lalu Prasad Yadav

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 7 2014, 07:26am hrs
Rashtriya Janata DalRashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad had lost from Patna Sahib in 2009 Lok Sabha polls
Congress today hailed Lalu Prasad Yadav as an "extremely supportive" ally as it sealed a deal with Rashtriya Janata Dal, under which it will contest 12 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

"We have a very good rapport with RJD chief Lalu Prasad. He has been extremely supportive of Congress inside Parliament and outside," party spokesperson Sanjay Jha told reporters here.

Asserting that there was "no dispute" between the two parties, the Congress spokesperson said that the issue of an alliance during any election is a very complex issue that cannot be dealt in a hurry.

While Lalu Prasad said that the candidates list for the elections will be declared within two days, sources in Congress said that under the seat sharing agreement, it will get 12 seats, NCP one and RJD will contest on rest 27.

The sources said that while Lalu Prasad did not accept Congress' demand of seats like Madhubani, East Chamaparan and Nawadah, it has given it the two seats held by Congress Sasaram and Kishanganj from where Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Md Asrarul are MPs.

Besides these two seats, the party is getting Aurangabad Supaul, Purnia, Hajipur, Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Balmikinagar, Jamui, Muzaffarpur, Aurangabad and Gopalganj. On the last two seats, there could be a change also. NCP leader Tarique Anwar would be contesting from Katihar.

Former Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar, who resigned yesterday, was an MP from Aurangabad seat in past. There is speculation that he may prefer to contest this time from Karakaat seat in place of Aurangabad while Gopalganj seat could be substituted with Gaya, which is currently held by the BJP.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad had lost from Patna Sahib in 2009 Lok Sabha polls when Congress was not part of the RJD-LJP alliance.

Similarly Madhubani seat was a bone of contention with Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed, who had won in 2004 Lok Sabha polls seeking it while RJD's Abdul Bari Siddique, who was runner up from the seat in 2009 Lok Sabha polls in no mood to spare the seat currently held by BJP's Hukumdev Narayan Yadav. The Congress general secretary finally blinked agreeing to forego his demand for the sake of "secular alliance".

Shakeel Ahmed was later asked to contest from another seat, which he declined, the sources said.

Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh, who was earlier a minister from RJD in UPA I government, wanted to contest from East Champaran but the RJD did not spare the seat for Congress. Congress is now persuading Akhilesh to contest from Muzaffarpur, the sources said.

Some of the seats offered by RJD to Congress like Hajipur, Nalanda, Patna Sahib and Valmikinagar could really prove tough for the party.

Hajipur is the turf of Ram Vilas Paswan, while Nalanda is home district of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

RJD sources said both parties have agreed to "concede" to each other's demands.

Earlier, RJD had offered 11 seats to Congress and one to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as a pre-condition for alliance.

Congress had fought the 2004 Lok Sabha election in alliance with RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP and they had won 29 of the 40 Parliamentary seats.

In 2009, Congress fought alone as itsalliance for Lok Sabha polls broke with RJD and LJP. The results were disastrous for all three parties with RJD winning only four seats, Congress two and LJP even failing to open its account.

While Paswan has aligned with BJP this time, RJD and Congress have come together.

In 2004, Congress had won three seats including Madhubani, Sasaram and Aurangabad. In 2009, the party won only two seats retaining Sasaram and losing the other two. The other seat it won was Kishanganj.