Lalu lonely in anti-DeMo fight, but not unnerved

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), after maintaining its cold shoulder to RJD’s protest plans for two weeks, finally sent hints that it would not participate in the demonstrations.

Published: 27th December 2016 09:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th December 2016 09:24 PM   |  A+A-

Lalu Prasad Yadav1PTI

RJP Supremeo Lalu Prasad Yadav. | PTI

Express News Service

PATNA: With his Bihar ruling allies finally deciding on Tuesday to stay away from RJD’s proposed statewide demonstrations against demonetisation, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav emerged as a
lonely figure, but said his party would go ahead with its agitation plans to voice the angst of the underprivileged.

Leaders and workers of RJD, the largest party in Bihar’s three-party grand alliance government, would stage demonstrations against the Narendra Modi-led Centre’s “failed demonetisation exercise” at every district headquarters town in Bihar on Wednesday. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), after maintaining
its cold shoulder to RJD’s protest plans for two weeks, finally sent hints that it would not participate in the
demonstrations. Congress, the smallest ally in the government, also kept itself away from the demonstrations.

While RJD leaders were expecting till the last moment that both JD(U) and Congress would support its
anti-demonetisation protests, sources said the undercurrents of acute one-upmanship in Bihar politics among the three allies prevented them from coming together for a united protest. Such barely hidden
disagreements could further worsen the three parties’ coordination in running the government, said analysts. The Opposition BJP appeared glad about Yadav’s loneliness in the anti-NDA lobby and sought to make the most of it.

“Every party has its own way of thinking and responding to a situation. We will decide later how to go about it,” said Bihar Congress president and education minister Ashok Chaudhary. Sources said the
state Congress leaders managed to convince the party’s central leadership against joining RJD-sponsored protests in Bihar. “If this protest were in New Delhi, maybe we would have been together,” said a senior Congress leader.

JD(U) is yet to formally take a stand on the efficacy of demonetisation and the situation it brought about. “In a democracy there is always scope for difference of opinion. This is a national issue and we need to look at it from a national perspective,” said JD(U) state president Vashistha Narayan Singh.

Yadav, though aware of the permutations and combinations in Bihar politics, chose to downplay the differences. “They (JD-U and Congress) have caused confusion… Some see ego in it, about someone going ahead. But there is no disintegration. This is their present way of seeing things,” he said.

“I will myself sit in demonstration. Then I will travel across Bihar. We will organise a massive rally in Patna to raise the voices of the underprivileged classes,” added Yadav.

RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, however, blamed both Congress and JD(U). “Instead of going to the President on the issue of demonetisation, Congress leaders had visited the PM. It
was a strategic mistake by Congress, and it created this situation… It is shocking that the party (JD-U) that is leading the coalition is supporting Narendra Modi,” he said.

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