By Pankaj Chaudhry
New Delhi, Mar. 18 (ANI): Having cocked a snook at the Congress party by only agreeing to give it three seats to contest from in Bihar, Railway Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad Yadav’s attempts to smoke the peace pipe with Congress president Sonia Gandhi came to naught late on Tuesday evening.
Highly placed sources confirmed that Lalu sought to have a meeting with Sonia at her 10, Janpath residence, but was given short shrift, as he had not extended Sonia the courtesy of discussing his political plans in Bihar with Lok Janshakti Party chief and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
The sources further revealed that Sonia reluctance to meet with Lalu was conveyed through Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in as polite a manner as possible.
It may be recalled that on Tuesday, Paswan and Lalu Yadav strongly pitched for a secular form of government in Bihar while announcing a seat sharing arrangement between their two parties in the state.
It was announced that out of the 40 seats, the RJD would contest 25 seats, while the LJP would contest 12 seats. The remaining three seats were left for the Congress.
Talking to reporters here yesterday, Lalu said: "We''''re fighting to form a secular government... We''''re with the UPA and will remain with the UPA."
Paswan too said their aim was to defeat communal forces.
"LJP and RJD, we will together fight this battle and we will win. There is no doubt about this," said Lalu.
Expressing confidence about winning the general elections, Paswan said, "UPA will get more seats this year in Bihar as compared to previous year. The United Progressive Alliance will definitely form a government in the country."
In a view of strengthening ties between the two UPA allies, Lalu Prasad said the RJD AND LJP would fight together in Jharkhand too. He further clarified that he was not concerned with the recently launched Third Front.
The Congress termed the Lalu-Paswan deal unacceptable.
"They have left just three seats. Our workers are in so much anger. We were ready with a list of eleven candidates, " AICC secretary Iqbal Singh, in-charge of Bihar told reporters here.
In the previous general election, the UPA had bagged 29 seats in the state, while the JD (U)-BJP combine had 11. The RJD''''s tally was 22, while the LJP could only win four.
The 2009 general elections in Bihar would happen in four phases. The first phase is scheduled on April 16, second on April 22 and 23, third on April 30 and fourth on May 7. (ANI)