Patna: Ending all speculations over the fate of the proposed 'Janata Parivar' alliance in Bihar, JDU chief Sharad Yadav has said that the Janata Dal United (JDU), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress will be fighting the Assembly elections in September together.
The statement comes a day after reports of an unlikely merger of JDU and RJD following differences over the leadership during assembly elections.
Lalu Prasad's RJD was said to be in a dilemma after the Congress and the National Congress Party (NCP) had backed JDU leader Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Bihar elections.
With Nitish projecting a secular and progressive image, the Congress has been keen to support him as the head of a "secular alliance" to defeat the BJP-led NDA. The NCP, too, has been strongly rallying behind Nitish which has put pressure on Lalu to take a call on whether to accept him as the leader of a common alliance or go it alone.
"The Congress has to project someone who can aggressively counter (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi's development plank in the polls," Congress leader Ashok Choudhary said.
The Congress threw its weight behind Nitish Kumar after its vice president Rahul Gandhi preferred the JD-U leader over Lalu Prasad. "Even ahead of the Lok Sabha polls (last year), Rahul was inclined to go with Nitish Kumar. But (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi opted for Lalu," said another senior Congress leader, Ashok Yadav.
Sonia Gandhi also wants an alliance with the JD-U but she is equally keen to partnering with Lalu Prasad so as to consolidate all anti-BJP votes. The BJP is divided over who its chief ministerial candidate should be. JD-U leaders feel that the Congress support to Nitish will provide him bargaining power with the RJD.
On his part, Nitish had made it clear that the JDU would go for a tie-up with the Congress. "We enjoy very good relations with the Congress. It has been supporting our government," he said. "We want it to contest the election in alliance with us."
His comments come at a time when RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has come out against projecting him as the chief ministerial candidate of a possible RJD-JDU alliance.
The Bihar election will be the first popularity test after the Modi government completed its first year in office in May. The results are expected to have a wider political resonance amid efforts by Rahul Gandhi to brand the Modi government as "anti-farmer" and "anti-poor".