M A I N   N E W S

Paswan woos Congress
Laloo okays friendly contests

Patna, January 14
Unfazed by the confusion surrounding the Congress and RJD strategy in the Bihar Assembly elections, another UPA partner Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan today expressed total support to the Congress, in an apparent bid to wean it away from Laloo Prasad’s party.

Paswan, who had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi a couple of days ago, told reporters here if there was a need he would even campaign for the Congress candidates.

He said the release of the list of his party candidates was being delayed because he wanted to avoid “friendly fights” and did not want to harm the Congress nominees.

“We would like the Congress to win every seat where we extend support to it,” he said but did not “absolutely” rule out the possibility of friendly contests in some places.

Paswan said in his talks with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel he had requested his party not to field its candidates in the six seats LJP had won in the last elections and the seats of the four MLAs who later joined his party.

RJD President Laloo Prasad said his party had “no objection” to the Congress fighting 80 seats in the coming Bihar Assembly elections forcing friendly contests in many seats.

“RJD will, however, not field its candidates on the 14 seats having sitting Congress MLAs. On the remaining seats, we have no objection in going for friendly contests with the Congress,” he told reporters.

While the Congress had won 12 seats in the last Assembly elections, two Independents Ravindra Kumar Mishra and Aditya Singh had later joined the party.

Asked if talks with the Congress had broken, he replied in the negative and said RJD representatives were still in touch with the Congress leadership to remove the irritants.

The RJD supremo, however, made it clear that friendly fights would have no “negative impact on the health of the UPA as our priority is to defeat the communal NDA. This I had conveyed to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in my recent meeting with her”.

Prasad evaded a direct reply to a question on how many seats the RJD would contest saying “talks are on. Adequate number of seats will be spared for the allies in accordance with their strength”.

The RJD chief said the party would have seat adjustments with NCP, CPI and CPI-M. — PTI


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