NEW DELHI: The split in JD(U) is staring its leaders, including party national president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in the face. With rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav looking set to attend RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav’s much-hyped rally on August 27 here against Nitish’s wishes, the veteran socialist leader’s loss of his Rajya Sabha berth and his formal exit from JD(U) are foregone conclusions.
That Sharad, the senior-most JD(U) leader and former national president of the party, is keen to challenge
Nitish with all his might was evident when his faction petitioned the Election Commission seeking its recognition as the “real” JD(U). The Nitish-led camp, which has expelled nearly 25 leaders close to Sharad, is waiting for the 70-year-old rebel to attend Lalu’s rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
Despite warnings from Nitish’s camp not to attend Lalu’s rally, a defiant Sharad indicated that he and leaders close to him would attend. Lalu’s rally, christened ‘Remove BJP, Save India’, will be a major gathering of Opposition parties where the script for the anti-BJP narrative in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be written. Sharad wants to be a part of this congregation as its politics suits his long socialist career.
Sharad dubbed Lalu’s rally as “not an RJD rally, but a grand alliance rally”.
This means he still insists that the grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress that ruled Bihar since November 2015 till Nitish walked out in July 2017 is intact. This claim has left many in Nitish’s faction wary.
“He (Sharad) is playing to Lalu’s scheme and the two Yadav leaders still have an eye on JD(U) legislators.
By claiming that the dead grand alliance is alive, the duo has hinted that they may launch a coup to break away JD(U) legislators and form a government,” said a JD(U) leader. But the Nitish faction, waiting to execute Sharad’s disqualification from Rajya Sabha and his formal exit from the party, is confident that all 71 MLAs of the party are with the CM. “They (Sharad faction) are making empty claims with prodding from Lalu Yadav,” said JD(U) state president Bashistha Narayan Singh.
A leader close to the CM said the party will approach Chairman of Rajya Sabha seeking Sharad’s disqualification from the Upper House if he attends Lalu’s rally. “Being seen with Lalu at the rally will accelerate Sharad’s decline in politics. Venkaiah Naidu would be too happy to invoke provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution to disqualify him on the ground of defection,” he said.
The clause was used in 2008 to disqualify BJP’s Jai Narain Nishad from the Rajya Sabha. Then Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari had acted against Nishad after the BJP petitioned him with a photograph showing the MP sharing the stage with Lalu.
But Sharad is hopeful of getting re-elected to the Upper House with RJD help. RJD is the largest party in the Bihar Assembly with 80 MLAs. With Congress support, RJD has enough strength to win two Rajya Sabha seats.
The impending split in JD(U) will be the 12th division of the Janata Parivar in the past 29 years of its existence. It’ll leave Nitish weakened in the long run and will impact the outcome of the 2019 general elections in Bihar.