RJD, Congress rapport reaches flashpoint

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 23 2009, 04:31am hrs
The worsening relationship between RJD and the Congress reached breaking point on Tuesday as the latter unleashed its sharpest attack on the Bihar strongman, accusing him of using the Congress as a doormat and raising doubts over his continuation in the UPA after elections.

In what clearly appeared to be a calculated strategy to push the RJD chief into a corner, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee told an election rally in Samastipur that Lalu Yadav may find himself out of the UPA after the election results. Who will form the government. BJD, NDA or the Third Front or Lalu Leave alone forming the government, Lalu will find it difficult to become even a minister because he is with nobody Mukherjee said.

Party circles indicated that the escalation was well thought out as Mukherjee was sent to Bihar at the last minute, where Congress president Sonia Gandhi was actually supposed to address rallies in Supaul and Samastipur. The party did not assign any reason for Gandhis skipping the meetings except to say that she had other pressing engagements, but the harsh language used subsequently by Mukherjee against Prasad made it clear that the move was deliberate.

Hours earlier, Lalu did an about turn when he suddenly questioned the Congress decision to designate Manmohan Singh top post, and by extension, of the UPA. The RJD supremo maintained that the UPA is a confederation of secular parties and the Congress could not take it for granted that Singh would be the next PM. We will sit together after the elections to chalk out a CMP and in consultation with all our partners select a leader who will be the PM, he had said.

Addressing the rally in Samastipur, Mukherjee also recalled that NDA once was ready to dismiss Lalus government when he was Bihar chief minister and how no one except Congress supported him. But if he views Congress as a doormat then Congress will not agree to accept this, he added.

The RJD chief was quick in responding to the latest attack, saying Who will form government without us Time will tell who will form government, who will remain and who will leave. Let elections be over.

Prasad first irked Congress by striking tie-up with LJP leaving just 3 seats in Bihar. Congress retaliated by fielding candidates in all 40 seats of the state. The RJD chief then raised Congress hackles by saying the party could not escape the blame for the demolition of the Babri mosque as it was in power when it was brought down.