Lalu to ally with Paswan in Bihar polls
TNN, Aug 17, 2010, 01.36am IST

 NEW DELHI: After days of intense speculation over whether LJP
leaderRam Vilas Paswan would join hands with the RJD for the upcoming
Bihar polls, the dalit leader and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad announced
his decision on Monday to contest elections together.

Of the 243 seats in the state assembly, Prasad agreed to give the LJP
75 seats, which is enough for Paswan to lustily hail the RJD leader as
the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance.

The RJD will contest in the remaining 168 seats. The two parties also
agreed that Paswan's brother Pashupati Kumar Paras will be the deputy
chief ministerial candidate.

The announcement came after reports that Paswan, true to his
reputation, was contemplating dumping the RJD, which had ensured his
entry to the Rajya Sabha. Initially, Prasad was apparently not keen on
giving the LJP any more than 24 seats.

Paswan was then said to have sent feelers to the Congress, which in
keeping with its `long term' attempts to revive itself in the state,
did not show any interest. The Congress has steadfastly refused to
have anything to do with both the RJD and the LJP as it tries to come
up with a third alternative in Bihar.

"Our alliance is rock solid and unbreakable. There is no truth in
reports that I had talks with the Congress or that I would become a
minister at the Centre," said Paswan, as he lambasteed Bihar CM Nitish
Kumar for a scam which he said was worth Rs 30,000 crore.

However, as many as 75 seats to Paswan could be as much a consequence
of Prasad's deep-seated fear of Nitish Kumar's own brand of social
churning. Prasad knows that what Kumar will lose in the form of upper
caste votes, he may make up from support from dalits whom he has
assiduously courted in the past few years. Except for the Paswan
community, he has categorised almost all other dalit castes mahadalit
and ensured benefits for them. Prasad is hoping that the LJP,
described by many as moribund after it drew a blank in the Lok Sabha
polls, would be able to offset that advantage.

Former JD (U) leader Prabhunath Singh, a Rajput, who joined the RJD a
few days ago, was seated next to Prasad during the annoucement. A
beaming RJD chief twice made Singh stand on the dais as he emphasised
that he had been wrongly portrayed as a leader who was against upper
castes. Prasad knows that a substantial chunk of votes from the
Rajputs will come to his party.

Prasad claimed that the RJD has changed a lot and was no longer the same party.

"There were a few people during our rule who brought bad name for us.
If our government comes to power, such elements will not be
tolerated," he said, adding that such elements had now joined the

Prasad said that if the alliance came to power, he would turn Bihar
around "in the same way as I raised the reputation of railways in the
world during my tenure as railway minister".

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