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After silently watching the events in Bihar from the sidelines for days, Congress President Sonia Gandhi finally intervened in the ongoing tug-of-war between the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal (United).
She spoke to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad over the phone on Friday and requested the stalwarts to "save the government at any cost" to keep the BJP "at bay". Heeding her advice, both sides have called a temporary ceasefire in the continuing war of words.
Confirming the development, Congress sources said Mrs Gandhi dialled Lalu and Nitish and made an emotional appeal to save the crumbling alliance in the state. "She was worried about the strained relationship between the alliance partners. Therefore, Madam, requested them to be united in the fight against the communal forces and save the coalition at any cost to keep the BJP at bay." a senior Congress leader told Business Standard.
After the call, the Congress leadership also dispatched the state Congress chief Ashok Chaudhary, who also holds education portfolio in Nitish cabinet, to Patna for detailed discussions with the warring sides to find a middle ground.
Chaudhary met the chief minister on Friday afternoon and both the leaders spoke for almost 90 minutes behind closed doors. The state Congress chief also met RJD chief as soon as after his return from Ranchi late in the evening.
Sources from both the parties, which have been attacking each other since Wednesday, have called a temporary truce after the "request" from Sonia Gandhi. Leaders from both the RJD and JD(U) have stated that although they are adamant over their stand, they are "ready to find a middle ground" for the sake of the survival of the alliance.
The war of words between the alliance partners reached an another height on Thursday as the RJD reminded that it's the senior partner in the alliance as it has 80 MLAs in the state assembly. The JD(U) retaliated by reminding that the alliance fought the election with Nitish Kumar being the Chief Ministerial candidate.
"We fought the election as an alliance. However, Nitish ji was the face of the alliance. We should keep that in mind," JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar. "We are firm on our stand that Tejashwi Yadav must put his case in the people's court with all the facts and figures. We can never compromise with our policy of zero tolerance on corruption."