JD-U, RJD to fight Bihar polls together

New Delhi: The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have decided to contest the forthcoming assembly election in Bihar in alliance, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said on Sunday.

The announcement followed talks between Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Lalu Prasad at the residence of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav here.

Mulayam Singh -- who has been named chief of the new party to come into existence when six former constituents of the erstwhile Janata Dal reunite -- and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav also participated in the meet.


RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (L) and JDU leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

"It has been decided that RJD and JD-U will contest the Bihar polls together," the SP general secretary said after the meeting.

Ram Gopal Yadav said a six-member panel, with three members each from JD-U and RJD, will discuss seat-sharing and resolve any issues that arise but did not divulge the names of its members.

On the contentious issue of chief ministerial candidate, he said: "There is no dispute. These things will be taken care of later."

Nitish Kumar had earlier in the day met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in a clear indication of his party's desire to tie-up with the party. JD-U leaders are keen on a broad alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA which includes RJD, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and the Left parties. They are also keen that Nitish Kumar is projected the chief ministerial candidate.

The Sunday meeting came against the backdrop of some statements from RJD leaders on seat sharing which appeared to have not gone down well with Nitish Kumar. Elections to Bihar's 243-member assembly are likely to be held September-October.

Six parties of erstwhile Janata parivar had in April decided to merge, but the unification has since not made much progress.

Apart from the JD-U, SP and RJD, the other parties are the Janata Dal-Secular, Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party.

According to informed sources, the formula being floated is of both JD-U and RJD contesting 100 seats with the remaining being divided between the Congress, NCP and Left parties.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had performed credibly in Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning 31 of 40 seats, and parties opposed to it feel that they have to fight unitedly to present a forceful challenge.

About the Gandhi-Nitish Kumar meeting, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed told IANS that that his party had been supporting JD-U since it parted ways with BJP over elevation of Narendra Modi, when Nitish Kumar proposed the name of Jitan Ram Manjhi for chief minister after stepping down after the party's debacle in the general elections, and when he again took over.

"So we have been a supporting party and as far as a meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Nitish Kumar is concerned, I would say there is nothing new in it as political leaders keep meeting each other," he said.

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