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Get real if you are serious: RJD tells hungry Congress

Thursday 6 January 2005

NEW DELHI: Handing out a terse “get real” message to the Congress, the RJD on Wednesday asked the grand old party to substantially tone down its demand of 103 seats out of 243 in Bihar if it was serious about fighting the coming assembly elections together.

The Congress’ latest demand for getting 106 seats is unreasonable,’’ RJD leader and union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told reporters, saying that the party would have to see the “ground reality’’ and come out with a reasonable list.

Mr Singh even took the liberty of pulling up the Congress a bit, saying that it was free to contest all the seats if it felt it was in a better position. The assertion, even though not let out as a full threat, underlined the sorry state of the Congress in Bihar where it has clearly been cornered into a “take it or leave it’’ situation by the RJD.

Talks between the two sides, the fifth round so far, was held yesterday. The RJD was represented by union ministers Premchand Gupta and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, while the Congress side included Bihar incharge Harikesh Bahadur, PCC president Ramjatan Sinha and CLP leader Vijay Shankar Dubey.

Party circles, however, conceded that the positioning by both sides at this preliminary stage was in preparation for the hard bargaining that would be coming when actual negotiations took place at a much higher level.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has deputed Arjun Singh and ML Fotedar to hammer out the seat-sharing settlement with Laloo Yadav.

Congress leadership is pinning its hopes on a figure closer to half of that of its present demand of 106 seats. Besides the 14 seats that it won in the last elections, it has conveyed to the RJD leadership that the party has improved its standing in many areas.

However, some leaders contend that the party could deem it a good bargain if it got 35 seats from the RJD. RJD leaders, however, have even scorned such claims countering that it would not part with more than 20 seats to the Congress. They pointed out that the party had made similar demands during the Lok Sabha elections, but ultimately had to settle down for the four seats that Laloo Yadav allotted to it.

See online : The economic Times

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