No breakthrough in Samajwadi Party-Grand Alliance talks as Election Commission firms up Bihar polls

New Delhi(dna): High-stakes Bihar state assembly elections considered to be the barometer test of Narendra Modi’s popularity and the strength of JDU-RJD propelled Grand Alliance are likely to be held in five phases.

Yadav with Mulayam

Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav with Mulayam Singh Yadav at the latter’s residence in New Delhi on Friday B B Yadav

The Election Commission of India is expected to roll out the entire itinerary later in this week which could come just after the government’s decision on the burning issue of one rank one pension (OROP).

But even as election dates are all set to be announced, the teething troubles for the Grand Alliance do not seem to go away. Repeated efforts by JDU and RJD to bring back Samajwadi Party back in the fold failed to get any result even on Friday.

Citing ‘humiliation’ for being given only 5 seats as the reason, the Samajwadi Party had announced breaking away from the alliance and fighting on its own in Bihar elections on Thursday.

In a renewed effort to persuade SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to continue in the Grand Alliance, Lalu Prasad Yadav went to his official residence in Delhi on Friday. But the talks on seat-sharing remained inconclusive. Lalu failed to give an encouraging reply to the waiting media.

“Talks are still continuing. I don’t think seat-sharing is an issue… It is not only our but everybody’s responsibility to defeat communal forces,” Lalu said after meeting Mulayam for over an hour.

The poll watchdog held its final meeting with Union home ministry officials on Friday to decide on the deployment strength of central armed police forces (CAPFs) that are required to hold Bihar elections — considered to be volatile – in a peaceful manner.

As many as 700 companies (nearly 70,000 personnel) of CAPFs are expected to be deployed for Bihar elections to keep possible caste, communal and Naxal violence at bay.

Home ministry sources said the CAPFs have been told to keep the required number of companies ready mode so that those can be deployed as soon as the Election Commission announces the dates.