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With Lalu backing, Nitish will lead charge in Bihar
Monday June 8, 2015 7:45 PM, IANS

New Delhi/Patna:
After days of talks brokered by Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Janata Parivar finally announced on Monday that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will lead the charge in the Bihar assembly polls with the support of foe-turned-friend Lalu Prasad.

Mulayam Singh Yadav made the much-awaited announcement at his official residence in New Delhi where RJD chief Lalu Prasad declared that no one from his family was keen on being the chief ministerial candidate.

"It is the need of the hour that we all get united to stop the BJP," Lalu Prasad, who cannot run for office due to his conviction in a corruption case, told the media.

"I assure secular powers... We are ready to make all sacrifices for this battle. I will drink poison but will defeat the communal forces," said the former chief minister.

In Patna, Nitish Kumar too affirmed his Janata Dal-United's alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He said the Congress too will be part of the alliance to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"There is no difference or any dispute with the RJD and Lalu Prasad over the alliance. The JD-U and the RJD along with the Congress will contest the elections together," he said.

Nitish Kumar said his meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday in New Delhi over seat sharing was a positive one.

BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy played down the significance of the RJD-JD-U bonhomie, saying his party was on a strong wicket in Bihar and didn't care for Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad.

Until Monday's announcement, there was intense speculation that Lalu Prasad was opposed to Nitish Kumar's projection as the chief ministerial face of the Janata Parivar in Bihar.

But with the Congress and even the Nationalist Congress Party coming out publicly in his favour, Mulayam Singh Yadav managed to persuade a reluctant Lalu Prasad to fall in line.

Lalu Prasad said he agreed with the decision as no one in his family was interested in the chief ministerial post.

"No one in my family or the RJD is interested in the chief ministerial post," he said, underlining the need for the Janata Parivar to be united.

The Bihar elections, which will be the biggest popularity test after the February election in Delhi where the AAP crushed the BJP, are likely to be held in September-October.

The RJD, Samajwadi Party and JD-U along with the Janata Dal-Secular, Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party have decided to merge to revive the united Janata Dal.

Nitish Kumar said his meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday in New Delhi over seat sharing was a positive one.

Monday's decision will be followed by what are expected to be tough negotiations over who will contest how many of the 243 seats in Bihar.

Asked about seat sharing, Lalu Prasad said: "We will sort out any differences that emerge."

According to the Bihar assembly web site, the JD-U has 110 seats in the current house, followed by the BJP (86) and RJD (24). Backing the BJP now is Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).

JD-U leader K.C. Tyagi maintained that there were no differences in what is being described as the anti-BJP coalition. "All our differences have been sorted out. Differences in the BJP will now emerge."

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