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Laloo Sulks, Keeps Away From Up Campaign

This is a marked change from the Lok Sabha elections, when he had found time to crisscross Uttar Pradesh at the request of Janata Dal candidates.

Byelections are scheduled to be held in Bihar too (October 11), and this may be the primary reason for his remaining in his state. But Front sources indicated that Yadav's remaining aloof had more to do with the lowering of his standing vis-a-vis Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda than the byelections.

To make matters worse for Yadav, Gowda has been taking along railway minister Ram Vilas Paswan during his several tours of Uttar Pradesh.

Apportioning more attention and importance to Paswan has been one of the reasons for the strained relations between Yadav and Gowda.

Front sources said with Gowda making farmers the cornerstone of his campaign, leaders with a pronounced casteist image like Yadav's are finding less takers at the grassroots level.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav too is reported to be drawing lesser crowds than Gowda. A senior Front leader said the activities of the Bihar strongman needed to be closely watched now; particularly in view of the new Laloo-friendly Congress president (Sitaram Kesari) taking over the reins of the party.

In any case, Yadav has been in touch with P V Narasimha Rao through the latter's emissaries for quite some time.

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First Published: Sat, September 28 1996. 00:00 IST