Within hours of the Election Commission’s announcement of polls over five phases — from October 12 to November 5 — for the Bihar Assembly, on Wednesday, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad declared that he would “sacrifice all personal ambitions” to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out.

In an exclusive interview with BusinessLine , Lalu said accepting Nitish Kumar as the leader of the Janata Alliance was a small price to pay to rein in the BJP.

He said the BJP faced no competition in the Lok Sabha elections because the “Congress just gave up” and secular forces, including himself, were “busy fighting among ourselves”.

Lalu rubbished all reports about his meeting with Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi and admitted that accommodating a growing crowd of his supporters within the alliance’s seat sharing formula would be tough.

“Who said that (I am meeting Jitan Ram Manjhi)? People keep writing anything. What are we going to do with Manjhi? How will we accommodate him? Do you see how many ticket aspirants have lined up outside? Elections have been announced and everyone is rushing to Patna. Do you think I have time to entertain Manjhi now?” Lalu asked.

About accepting Nitish Kumar as his leader, the former Bihar Chief Minister said: “I am ready to sacrifice anything to keep them out of my State. This is not the time to pursue personal ambition… Nitish and I, together, have 45 per cent of the vote.”

Also read ‘I will sacrifice anything to keep the BJP out of Bihar’