A significant faction of the Congress in Bihar believes that the party’s association with Lalu Yadav eats large chunks into its credibility at a time when its standing has been greatly diminished by electoral losses. Lalu Yadav and his family have been facing multiple corruption cases – Nitish Kumar’s stated reason for dismantling their alliance — and there is a concern within the party in the state it could singe the Congress’ reputation too.
Three weeks back, many of them – rumoured to be contemplating switching sides to join Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal (United) – met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to ask him to abandon the RJD. The Congress leadership had clearly declined to consider this option.
But back home in Bihar capital Patna, there had been no end to the spate of statements that they have been issuing against Lalu Yadav.
On Thursday, Lalu Yadav was asked about a recent statement by a senior Congress lawmaker when Lalu Yadav appeared to lose his cool.
Sadanand Singh, the leader of the Congress in the Bihar assembly, had demanded that Lalu Yadav should spell out right now how many seats the RJD was willing to give to the Congress in the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections to be held more than two years later.
Mr Singh had demanded that Lalu Yadav had should not put off a decision on the seats till the last moment, claiming that this gave the RJD a better bargaining power.
Lalu Yadav refused to respond, saying he did not take notice of what nonentities said. Going a step further, the RJD chief added seat negotiations were way above Mr Singh’s paygrade. This is something that will be discussed closer to the polls with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul closer, he said.
Lalu Yadav’s RJD is the largest party in the 243-seat Bihar assembly with 80 seats, the Congress has 27 lawmakers or MLAs.
But his Thursday’s remarks have further angered Congress lawmakers against the alliance. A RJD leader insisted that there really was nothing wrong if Mr Yadav spoke about talking to the Congress leadership on seat negotiations. “He is the RJD president and it is only normal that he would hold parleys with the leadership of other party in the alliance,” said a RJD leader.