Lalu ready to talk further with Congress on Bihar seat sharing

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Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad on Sunday hinted at his willingness to negotiate further with the Congress on the seat sharing in Bihar. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the RJD is trying hard to stitch an alliance with the Congress after the Lok Janshakti Party ditched them and forged an alliance with the BJP.

Lalu said, “I have offered 11 seats to Congress and one seat to Congress ally NCP. If they have any issues they should speak to me.” Bihar has 40 seats in the Lok Sabha and is considered to be one of the important states in the formation of the government at the Centre.

Lalu also appealed to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to help his party in fight against communal forces. He said, “I have no grudges against the Congress party. I appeal to Sonia Gandhi to help RJD fight communal forces.”

He added, “Secular forces are divided in this country. It’s a dangerous sign.”
Lalu had earlier given a deadline to Congress to decide on the seat share by Sunday. Putting pressure on the Congress, Lalu had asked the party to give its acceptance by Sunday before his party’s Parliamentary Board meet in Patna.

Lalu, who returned from Delhi on Friday night, said he had told Congress general secretary and in-charge of Bihar CP Joshi of the offer. “I have asked him to communicate acceptance before RJD Parliamentary Board meeting in Patna tomorrow at 3 pm,” Lalu had said.

Lalu, however, did not identify the 11 seats he has offered to Congress or the one to NCP of Sharad Pawar. He also refused to comment on reports that RJD-Congress alliance was stuck due to conflicting claims between the two parties on Madhubani and a few other seats.

While the Congress appears to be adamant about getting the Madhubani seat for its general secretary Shakeel Ahmad, RJD is in no mood to relent and claims it for its legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui.

Congress and RJD had fought separately in the 2009 polls and Siddiqui had secured second position after BJP’s Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, while Ahmad was at third position in the seat.

Congress is reportedly asking for seats like Patliputra, Nawada and Bhagalpur which are RJD favourites. Lalu is expected to field his eldest daughter Misa Bharti from Patliputra constituency in Patna district against his friend-turned-enemy Ranjan Yadav.