Congress goes all out against Lalu in Bihar

Last Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 17:39

New Delhi: Hoping to revive its fortune in
Bihar, Congress has gone all out against its friend-turned foe
Lalu Prasad making serious attempts to dent his political
base which kept RJD in power for 15 years.

Congress made its intentions clear in the ticket
distribution exercise itself when it fielded 49 candidates
from Muslim community and at least 20 from Yadavas thereby
seeking to shake up the `M-Y` combination of Prasad. In total
OBCs have got around 60 seats.

Congress, which made a Muslim its PCC chief ahead of the
elections, has so far distributed tickets for 239 seats of the
total 243 Assembly seats in Bihar. The party, which was in the
wilderness in the state for a long time, is going it alone
this time.

It fielded RJD chief`s high-profile brother-in-law
Anirudh Prasad alias Sadhu Yadav from Gopalganj constituency.

Yadav had parted ways with RJD during last Lok Sabha
election and joined Congress. He was sulking after the RJD
chief had left Congress in the cold giving only 3 of the 40
Lok Sabha seats to contest.

Congress immediately parted ways with Prasad`s party which
contested Lok Sabha election in Bihar with Ram Vilas Paswan`s
LJP. Both of them were union ministers in the UPA-I
government. Congress had also participated in RJD-led
government in Bihar in past.

While Paswan lost his Lok Sabha seat in 2009 elections and
his party could not open his account, RJD could bag only four
seats in a steep fall from its earlier tally of 22. Congress
could win two seats on its own.

Sources in Congress said the party is going it alone in
the elections as it is convinced that it cannot revive itself
in the state unless it charted out an independent path "out of
the shadow of Lalu Prasad".

"There is no reason that the vote base of Lalu Prasad will
not shift to Congress if the voters are convinced that Prasad
cannot defeat Nitish Kumar in Bihar," said a senior Congress
leader.

The party is not leaving any stone unturned to make
inroads into RJD base.

Sadhu Yadav, who was an RJD MP between 2004 and 2009 and
fought the last Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket
unsuccessfully, has played a key role in deciding a good
number of tickets where Yadavs have a sizeable population.

Besides, Congress has also warmed up to the upper caste
Rajput by giving over 32 seats to candidates belonging to that
caste. Incidentally, the three other RJD MPs are Rajputs.

Congress has fielded RJD MP and former Union Minister
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh`s brother Raghupati from Manhar
Assembly seat.

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has been Rural Development
Minister in UPA I and is appreciated in Congress circles as a
sincere minister.

He has been criticising RJD chief Lalu Prasad`s decision
to part ways with Congress in the last Lok Sabha election
describing it as his "biggest mistake".

Sources say two candidates favoured by RJD MP Umashankar
Singh have also got Congress tickets this time.

The RJD MP is annoyed with his party leadership after JD-U
rebel Prabhunath Singh was inducted into RJD by Lalu Prasad.
Prabhunath was defeated by Umashankar in last Lok Sabha
election.

Upper castes, who are not known for voting in favour of
RJD and off late have shown some hostility towards JD-U, have
also got a major share of Congress tickets.

They have already got tickets for more than 80 seats of
which more than two dozens seats had gone to Bhumihars, who
are generally opposed to RJD in the state.

Former RJD leader and former Union Minister Akhilesh
Singh, who is Bhumihar by caste, recently joined Congress and
is learnt to have had his say in candidate selection in a
number of seats.

Besides, the Congress has attempted to reach to the Paswan
and Ravidas sections among the Dalits in a big way by
offering both these castes more than a dozen seats. Paswans
have been known for voting for LJP while Ravidas votes are
divided.

The party hopes that the new experiment will help it reap
an impressive electoral dividend in the state.
The party, which has nine members in the outgoing House,
hopes to bolster its electoral prospects and emerge as a key
player after the polls.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 17:39

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