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I'm still in UPA, will remain in UPA: Paswan

Source: PTI
March 17, 2009 22:39 IST
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Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janashakti Party on Tuesday distanced itself from the controversy surrounding the allotment of only three seats to Congress in Bihar, saying 'it's a matter between the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress'.

Paswan, at the same time, rejected any possibility of giving any seat to Congress from his party's quota of 12 seats, saying he has already made a compromise by bringing down his demand from 16 to 12.

"I had attempted to talk to Congress before going in for final seat sharing with RJD. However, Congress leaders told me they are having a separate talk with RJD. I was not in between. Hence, I cannot comment how all this happened," Paswan told media persons when asked for his comment on Congress reactions to seat sharing.

Congress has said it would field candidates on a number of seats in the state now.

Moreover at least three RJD leaders, including party chief Lalu Prasad's brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav on Tuesday met senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde, expressing their desire to join the party.

Paswan said that he had first approached Congress to finalise the talks among them for seat sharing as was suggested by senior Congress leaders earlier.

"But they said they are talking to RJD. I do not know why we did not get response from them. Perhaps they thought we are smaller parties or something else... Congress should have no complaints from LJP," he added.

To a question whether this signals cracks in the UPA in Bihar, Paswan said, "I am still in UPA and will remain in UPA. You may consider it one-sided love then."

Asked to explain the situation of UPA alliance in Bihar in this scenario even as they are part of the UPA government at the Centre, Paswan said in a lighter vein, "Congress had itself said there is no national alliance and alliances will happen in states as per requirements."

Asked to comment on Lalu Prasad's brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav's announcement to field candidates on two seats allotted to LJP, Paswan said, "If any body is hell-bent on contesting what can be done. If such rebels are from RJD, they will expel them."

He refused to see any design into all this by the RJD chief, saying, "when we meet, hearts meet and not only parties."

Meanwhile, a senior UPA leader said LJP had earlier approached Congress with a formula of negotiating with RJD on a "fifty-fifty" basis.

"LJP wanted to get 20 seats jointly for itself and Congress and leaving the rest 20 for RJD. It wanted to contest on 14 seats and give 6 to Congress. There was also a talk of sparing one seat each for CPI and NCP under the arrangement from this quota," the UPA leader said.

Congress preferred direct channel of communication with RJD thinking that it could fetch it more as it was positioning for 11 seats, he added.

"Till March 16 Congress was maintaining that it will talk to LJP regarding seat sharing only after talking in this regard to RJD first. As we were running out of time, we preferred to finalise our talks with RJD, which said it is taking care of Congress," a senior LJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.

It is learnt that during one round of negotiations LJP had discussed the Congress demand of 11 seats with RJD and suggested that sitting seats of LJP and RJD should be deducted from the demand list and an amicable solution arrived at.

The UPA leader held the view that Congress should attempt to find a middle path and discuss the issue with RJD as it may find itself in a bind by going alone as both LJP and RJD have transferable votes, which Congress lacks in Bihar.

He also said that Congress should have clinched the deal with SP in Uttar Pradesh even at the loss of few seats. The UPA leader wondered why Congress did not evince interest in joint talks.

"In the last Lok Sabha elections, senior Congress leaders Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh along with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had together finalised the alliance. This time talks functioned in a one-to-one manner and hence all this confusion arose," the UPA leader said.

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