Digvijay Singh meets Paswan to discuss pre-poll alliance

In a bid to forge a "secular pre-poll alliance" in Bihar, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Sunday met Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

New Delhi: In a bid to forge a "secular pre-poll alliance" in Bihar, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Sunday met Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

The meeting assumes significance as Paswan, who was perceived to be inching closure towards JD(U), has consistently maintained that his party`s alliance with Congress is certain but whether to include Lalu Prasad`s RJD or JD(U) is a decision which the Congress has to take.
Congress, LJP and RJD had fought the 2004 Lok Sabha polls together, winning 29 out 40 parliamentary seats in Bihar.

However the alliance broke apart in 2009 Lok Sabha polls when RJD decided to offer only three seats to Congress, a decision which Prasad has been regretting ever since.

As result of the falling apart of this alliance, and BJP and JD(U) contesting the last Lok Sabha polls together in Bihar, all the three parties -- Congress, LJP and RJD suffered losses.
While LJP could not open its account and even party chief Paswan lost from home turf Hajipur, RJD won only four seats and Congress two.

A dominant section in Congress believes that an alliance of the three parties will put them in a strong position to take on Narendra Modi led BJP in the general elections scheduled in April-May.

A few days back, Prasad had sought to woo both the parties flagging threat from "communal forces".

He had also praised Congress as an "umbrella" organisation of secular forces, which the country needs. He had said that Paswan is a "gentleman" but some people around him are not allowing him to take the right decision.

There is speculation that broad parameters of the alliance has been finalised and the RJD will contest on 20 seats, Congress on 10 and Ram Vilas Paswan`s LJP on eight seats while two seats could be given NCP.

NCP leader Tariq Anwar has been contesting from Katihar Parliamentary seat since long.

This time, a well known leader of Kushwaha community Nagmani would be contesting the other seat on NCP ticket. Kushwaha or Koiris have a fairly good population among the OBCs.

Nagmani son of late Jagdeo, a revolutionary caste leader in Bihar has been to many parties including Congress in the past.

Meanwhile a week back, Nitish Kumar`s JD (U) has ruled out any talks with Congress for alliance in Bihar.

"The reports of Congress weighing options between RJD or JD(U) for a tie-up in Bihar is non-existent... At no time anybody from JD(U) had a talk with the Congress at any level," he had told reporters.

On the other hand, Lalu had told PTI earlier that his relationship with Paswan has not soured and he had never never said that we will not go for a tie-up with Ram Vilas Paswan`s party.

"There is no feeling of disrespect towards him from my side. Our tie-up was with his party earlier also and will remain now as well...My target is communal forces. I am not focusing on what one or the other leader is saying. We will stop communal forces in Bihar like we had done in fast," Prasad had told PTI.