Congress set to seal Bihar alliance with Lalu, Paswan

RahulCongress sources said they would also explore the possibility of getting the NCP to join its alliance with Lalu Prasad in Bihar. (PTI)

With Lalu Prasad out of jail on bail, the stage is set for a RJD-Congress-LJP alliance in Bihar for the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress is learnt to have abandoned the idea of pursuing a pre-poll alliance with the JD(U).

Congress sources said they would also explore the possibility of getting the NCP to join its alliance with Lalu and Ram Vilas Paswan. They said the Congress had already reached an agreement with the two Bihar leaders to back union minister and NCP leader Tariq Anwar, who is said to be planning to contest from Katihar.

The sources said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has always been "open" to tying up with Lalu and Paswan. "Some people around Rahulji were pushing for an alliance with JD(U). The fact is, weeks before Lalu Prasad was convicted in the fodder scam case, the Congress president had assured him that the party would go with him in Bihar," a senior Congress leader told The Indian Express.

"His conviction had created some complications, but now that he is out of jail, we are set for a grand alliance of Congress, RJD and LJP, which will sweep the state in 2014," the leader said.

Paswan had recently met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and exhorted her to join the LJP-RJD alliance, but she had remained non-committal as the ruling party was said to be unsure about the RJD's electoral prospects with Lalu in jail.

"But now that he is out, there are no more apprehensions. We are going for an alliance with Lalu and Paswan," another senior Congress leader said. Sources in the party said negotiations on seat-sharing would start after the AICC sub-committee on alliances, headed by A K Antony, formally cleared the understanding.

With the BJP perceived to be gaining in Bihar after splitting with the JD(U), the Congress is understood to have concluded that an alliance with the "weakened" Nitish Kumar might not be able to stop "Narendra Modi's surge" in the state. The JD(U) too has been non-committal on the idea of a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, and a section of the party has been opposing it.

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