PATNA: Even as rebel JD(U) veteran Sharad Yadav and JVM chief Babulal Marandi on Monday met RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in Ranchi jail, indicating consolidation in the Opposition camp, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar batted for NDA, saying there is no vacancy for the prime minister’s post in 2019.
Sharad Yadav, a former JD(U) national president who revolted against Nitish Kumar and thus lost his Rajya Sabha seat recently, spent about 25 minutes inside Birsa Munda Central Jail and discussed future political strategy with Lalu, his political rival-turned-friend. Marandi, a former chief minister of Jharkhand, was accompanied by his party colleague and former minister Pradeep Yadav.
The meeting of the four leaders in jail is widely seen as signs of new political alignments in the offing both in Bihar and Jharkhand before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Coming out of jail, Sharad Yadav said he and Lalu discussed the “present political situation and strategy”. He also hit out at the NDA governments in Bihar, Jharkhand and at the Centre.
“I am meeting leaders of like-minded parties in Bihar and Jharkhand and discussing strategy to put these anti-people governments out of power,” said Sharad. “The central government has ruined the country’s economy by steps like demonetisation. Schemes such as Skill India and Mudra Yojna are names only, which have failed reduce unemployment. The Centre has thoroughly failed in all its promises made during the 2014 polls,” he added.
Bihar’s ruling BJP and JD(U) attacked Sharad for meeting Lalu in jail. “Two unemployed people are getting together in jail to talk about plans to revive their moribund politics. Their desperation is for all to see. Sharad is seeking Lalu’s help to go to Rajya Sabha once again,” said JD(U) MLC and spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.
While BJP’s loss to Congress in three bypolls in Rajasthan has made the Opposition parties optimistic about their prospects in the 2019 LS polls, Nitish Kumar, who is also national president of JD(U), indicated that he would stay with NDA. He dismissed the Rajasthan bypoll results as “insignificant events”.
“People should not have misconceptions about the next polls. NDA will win in the 2019 general elections. There is no vacancy for the PM’s post in 2019,” Kumar told journalists after his ‘janata ka durbar’ programme. He also attacked Sharad for organising a public meeting in Buxar where his (Kumar’s) convoy was pelted with stones recently.