Bihar’s ruling JD(U) and Lalu Prasad’s RJD will contest the state assembly elections in alliance and a 6-member committee will be constituted for seat-sharing talks.
“Today [June 7], it has been decided that RJD and JD(U) will contest the Bihar polls in alliance,” Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said after a two-hour meeting between Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Emerging from the meeting held in the presence of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Gopal said a six-member panel will discuss seat-sharing but refused to name its members.
“These cannot be revealed. The two parties will appoint three members each to the panel which will undertake the important task of devising a seat-sharing formula,” he said.
Asked about the contentious issue of chief ministership, the SP general secretary said,”There is no dispute. These things will be taken care of later.”
After weeks of sparring by leaders of their parties, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad sat across the table at Mulayam’s residence in order to remove the irritants in the path of forging an alliance to thwart BJP’s attempt to wrest power in the politically sensitive state.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav was also present in the meeting.
The meeting, first between Lalu and Nitish over many weeks, apparently failed to resolve the differences between the two leaders on the issue of chief ministership.
While JD(U) has been insisting on Nitish to be declared as the chief ministerial candidate, Lalu has maintained that the issue can be addressed later. The RJD leader had his way as the matter has been kept pending.
The June 7 meeting came after Sharad Yadav’s assertion on June 4 that RJD, JD(U) and Congress will contest the elections together.
In an interesting development, the meeting between Lalu and Nitish was preceded by a visit by the latter to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s residence.
The Bihar Chief Minister’s meeting with Rahul lasted over an hour amid talks of a broader “secular alliance” to take on BJP.
The discussion with Rahul, which took place ahead of a meeting between the leaders of RJD and JD(U), is being seen as an attempt to show that Nitish is the preferred choice of the Congress.
Amid the face-off between RJD and JD(U) leaders over the chief ministerial candidate, Congress had made it clear that while it is keen on the proposed grand alliance that includes both Lalu and Nitish, it will side with the latter in case the two fail to come together.