M A I N   N E W S

Congress going out of way to support RJD
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 4
Having realised the folly of alienating Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Congress is now going out of its way to pledge support to the RJD in Bihar.

The Congress has also disassociated itself from the efforts made by Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar to cobble together an alternative alliance with the help of Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Independent legislators and smaller parties. The move has, so far, turned out to be a non-starter as Mr Paswan has publicly spurned the offer and reiterated that the JD(U) first sever its links with the BJP.

Whatever the final outcome of these ongoing moves, the Congress has made it clear that it is in no mood to ditch the RJD. “As far as the Congress is concerned, the party has committed its full support to the RJD,” party spokesperson Anand Sharma reiterated here today, adding that the RJD had been its most trusted ally. This belated realisation follows the Congress party’s dismal performance in the recent Bihar and Jharkhand assembly polls where it paid the price for not taking the RJD on board. The Congress does not want to make any more wrong moves now, especially since the RJD is a critical component of the UPA Government with its 25 Lok Sabha MPs.

Although the Congress has made its preference for the RJD fairly obvious, it would also like to keep the LJP in the UPA camp. If push comes to shove, the Congress will obviously opt for Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav instead of Mr Paswan, who has only four MPs in the Lok Sabha. However, it will not want to say or do anything which will push Mr Paswan to the NDA camp.

The Congress has played down reports about the Nitish-Paswan meeting and their efforts to form a government. Mr Paswan, according to the Congress spokesperson, has a “democratic right” to explore the possibility of forming a government in Bihar. However, there is considerable relief over Mr Paswan’s public statement that he will not support any government which has the direct or indirect backing of the BJP.

While the Congress was publicly soft on Mr Paswan, the UPA’s stance was conveyed by CPM leader Sitaram Yechury who openly stated that if the LJP formed a government in Bihar with JD (U) and the BJP’s outside support, Mr Paswan would have to leave the UPA. On its part, the Congress has issued an indirect warning to Mr Paswan, saying it will never support a government which has “a direct or indirect relationship with the BJP”.


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