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Shorn of allies, Cong gets combative in cowbelt
Posted on: 19-03-2009 , 04:: | DY365 Bureau

in Jharkhand and announced plans to contest over 26 seats in Bihar where it was given a short shrift by RJD and LJP.

Miffed at the shabby treatment it had received from Lalu and Ram Vilas Paswan, Congress is also expected to decide in a day or two the issue of admission of rebel RJD leaders including the RJD chief's controversial brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav into the party.

In a tit for tat, it also unilaterally announced a seat sharing agreement with JMM in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, giving one seat less to the RJD which had three earlier.

The Congress, facing a similar situation in Uttar Pradesh, said it plans to contest "substantially more" seats in the state than the 24 already announced.

The announcement was made by senior leader Sushil Kumar Shinde after a meeting with party chief Sonia Gandhi which indicated that Congress was in no mood to bear the "humiliation" meted out to it by the trusted ally.

It came at a time when both Lalu and Paswan refused to concede any seat to the Congress from their quota of 25 and 12 respectively asking Congress to remain content with three seats which has been allotted to it.

Shinde, who is heading the Screening Committee for Bihar said, "We had no alternative to protect our workers who are angry and incensed over the unilateral action".

With the party angry over Lalu's action, former PCC chief Ram Jatan Sinha, who had been with the JD-U, returned to the party fold. Sinha is a known detractor of Lalu.

Congress has been on the decline in the cow belt after the surge of the 'Mandal and Mandir' issues two decades back and the two backward leaders as also the BSP have occupied the centrestage.

On Uttar Pradesh, Shinde said that the workers there are agitated and wanted the party to fight more seats. It is for the first time in 10 years that Congress would be contesting so many seats as it had been the junior partner of the RJD for quite a long time.

With the alliance with SP virtually broken, Congress is getting into the battle gear in several constituencies and has already announced 24 candidates in the home state of the Gandhi-Nehru family.

In Jharkhand, Congress will contest seven seats and JMM 2.

State party in-charge K Keshav Rao said as per the agreement, the parties will take the sitting seats in the state which send 14 members to the Lok Sabha.


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