Lalu Prasadâs Rashtriya Janata Dal and Nitish Kumarâs JD(U), the two arch-rivals in Bihar politics, are eyeing the same ground in neighbouring WestBengal â an alliance with Mamata Banerjeeâs Trinamool Congress.
Lalu Prasad had met Banerjee, his successor in the railway ministry of the second UPA government, recently in Parliament and sought two assembly seats for his party. He has even assured Banerjee heâd camp in Bengal for almost a month to campaign for the alliance. Today, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav met Banerjee for three to four seats in the Bengal assembly poll. There are 294 seats up for election.
Banerjee, who has not finalised a poll agreement with her main partner, the Congress, was non-committal to both leaders. Prasad had an alliance with the CPI(M) during the 2006 assembly election in Bengal and even won an assembly seat. But the two sides eventually drew apart and during the recent Bihar assembly polls, the CPI(M) and CPI had an alliance with the CPI(ML) to fight against both Prasad and Nitish Kumar.
During the initial days of Banerjee in the railway ministry, Prasad had beeen critical. She had better terms with Nitish Kumar. While Nitishâs party is running an alliance with the BJP in Bihar, a large section of the Trinamool doesnât see it as an impediment. Bengal not only shares a long border with Bihar but also hosts a large population from the latter.
Bengal will have a six-phase assembly poll from April 18. Banerjeeâs party has emerged as a formidable force during recent years and is expecting to come to power in the state, replacing the 34-year-rule of the CPI(M)-led Left Front government.