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Cong takes on Lalu, to contest 26 seats from Bihar
Published on 20 Mar. 2009 12:26 AM IST
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Cracks in the Congress-RJD alliance are appearing with the former, smarting over RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s “betrayal” on the seat-sharing formula, has announced it will contest 26 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar. An emergency meeting is on at Lalu Prasad’s home which is also being attended by the RJD’s pre-poll partner LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan. The RJD chief on Wednesday defended his seat-sharing formula for the UPA in Bihar, saying he is not against Sonia Gandhi and the seat-sharing agreement was in the best interests of UPA. Earlier on Tuesday, Lalu and Paswan announced a 25:12:3 seat-sharing formula for the RJD, LJP and Congress in the state- the RJD would contest 25, the LJP 12, and three seats were left for the Congress. “Even in the three constituencies, the Congress candidates would rely heavily on me to win,” Lalu said, adding only he and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan in the UPA have a strong support base. “Our parties are mainly based in Bihar and Jharkhand and, therefore, it is natural for us to field the maximum number of candidates from these two states,” Lalu had said responding to a question on the arrangement, and added he never asked the Congress to give seats to the RJD in states where it has no support base. The RJD chief said the pre-poll alliance with Paswan was necessary. “Or else the media and our political opponents would have gone to town shouting from the top of their voice that the UPA has lost the polls in Bihar even before the campaigning begins,” Lalu said. Lalu recalled the Congress was given a substantial number of seats during the last Assembly polls in Bihar. “The party could win only nine,” he said and added the Lok Sabha polls are crucial for the UPA and, therefore, not an occasion to experiment with the seats. The Congress, however, said it deserves more seats on the basis of its performance in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, even a section of RJD leaders feel Lalu has pushed things too far. “The Congress would have been happy with just five seats. He humiliated them by giving one seat less than the last elections. It is a breach of trust,” said a former RJD minister.

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