Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chowdhary on Thursday met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, a day after he held consultations with party chief Sonia Gandhi and briefed both of them about the prevailing political scenario in the state after the break-up of Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (United) alliance. (Agencies)
Chowdhary's meeting with the Congress vice-president at his residence took place for half-an-hour. He had met Sonia Gandhi in Parliament House on Wednesday. He was called by both the leaders for a briefing about the situation in the state.
An indication of Congress warming up to the RJD chief was available, when the Congress President called to greet him after he got bail in a fodder scam case.
"Congress President Sonia Gandhi had telephoned me after my release from Ranchi jail. She graciously extended greetings to me and expressed happiness over my release," Lalu had told reporters in Patna on Wednesday.
Lalu, who was the Railway Minister in the UPA-I government and is considered very close to the Congress chief, had fallen out during UPA-II after an acrimony over seat sharing for 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which resulted in break-up of the RJD-LJP and Congress alliance.
RJD was the second largest constituent in UPA-I after Congress with 22 seats in Lok Sabha. There is a feeling in Congress that an alliance with RJD and LJP could repeat the 2004 magic, when the three parties had together walked away with 29 of the 40 seats in Bihar.
Congress had bagged three seats while LJP had got four. When RJD-LJP broke away from Congress in 2009, the results were disastrous for them. While RJD won four seats, Congress won two and LJP failed to open its account with its chief Ram Vilas Paswan suffering a humiliating defeat in his home turf Hajipur.
Soon after the crushing defeat, both RJD and LJP realized the folly and since then they have been trying to woo Congress.
Lalu Prasad's RJD had even offered unconditional support to the UPA-II government from outside.
However, there have been signals from Congress in the last one year that it was inching closer to NDA alliance partner JD (U), which eventually broke its 17-year-old alliance with BJP in June this year, opposing the elevation of Narendra Modi.
Last year, JD (U) had supported the candidature of Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election going against BJP, which had propped up PA Sangma to contest against the veteran Congress leader.
JD-U president Sharad Yadav has, however, been making his opposition to an alliance with Congress. Both Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had on October 30 addressed a ‘convention against communalism’, a gathering of non-Congress, non-BJP parties, thereby indicating that it was maintaining equi-distance from both parties.
After the debacle of Congress in recent Assembly polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, there were indications that Nitish Kumar has developed cold feet over aligning with Congress, a scenario which appears to have pushed Congress and RJD closer.
The RJD chief was the first leader to have rooted for Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister when the issue of her foreign origin had created a major controversy.
Lalu Prasad Yadav, who had stopped the Ayodhya rath yatra and arrested LK Advani, has been mocking at Kumar's secular credentials and maintaining that it will be his party RJD and not JD-U, which will halt Narendra Modi's march in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Bihar Congress chief Chowdhary said that he had briefed both the Congress president and the vice-president about the political situation in the state. He, however, remained non-committal on whether there is a clear signal from the top leadership of the party to align with RJD.
Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chowdhary on Thursday met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, a day after he held consultations with party chief Sonia Gandhi and briefed both of them about the prevailing political scenario in the state after the break-up of Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (United) alliance.