PATNA: With a senior leader of Bihar’s ruling JD(U) and the state chief of Samajwadi Party meeting RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in Ranchi jail on Monday, a top RJD leader sent ripples in political circles by claiming that several NDA leaders are poised to join RJD.
Yadav, who is lodged in Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi after being convicted in two fodder scam cases, held discussions with Uday Narayan Chaudhary, a senior JD(U) leader and former Bihar Assembly Speaker, and Devendra Prasad Yadav, Bihar unit chief of Samajwadi Party. Yadav’s elder son and former Bihar health minister Tej Pratap Yadav also met his father in jail for the first time on Monday.
“Even though Lalu is in jail, leaders of several parties are meeting him. Shiv Sena is deserting BJP in Maharashtra, and JD(U) is disintegrating. Several NDA leaders are waiting to join RJD,” said RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh an hour after the party chief’s meeting with the two leaders in jail.
Singh, a former Union minister, also hinted that Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) chief and former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi could walk out of NDA and ally with RJD. “Manjhi’s man Brishan Patel met Lalu in jail recently. Similarly, Upendra Kushwaha is feeling stifled in NDA. Despite being the education minister, he is attacking the (state) government on education and organising a statewide human chain on the issue of education,” said Singh.
“We discussed ways to crush the communal powers. Lalu’s being in jail will not weaken these efforts,” said Devendra Prasad Yadav after meeting Lalu in jail. Chaudhary, a prominent dalit leader who has been at odds with the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) over the unfulfilled rights of dalits, dubbed his meeting with Lalu as a courtesy call. Chaudhary has also been openly sympathetic to the rebel Sharad Yadav faction of JD(U).
Both Manjhi and Kushwaha, however, rubbished Singh’s claims. “These are Singh’s own thoughts. He is not in a position of authority in RJD. As HAM national president, I may say that Singh is going to join my party very soon,” said Manjhi.
“There is not an iota of credibility in Singh’s claims. He is in the habit of making such statements,” said Kushwaha, the Union minister of state for education. Sources, however, said that Kushwaha, has been unhappy with BJP for joining hands with Nitish Kumar after contesting the Assembly polls against JD(U) in 2015.
Tej Pratap Yadav also met senior JMM leader and former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren and reportedly discussed a strategy to reunite all parties in Bihar and Jharkhand against BJP-led NDA.
“RJD leaders are getting frustrated because there is little chance of Lalu coming out of jail. So they are consoling themselves by imagining a split in NDA, which stands strong from Patna to Delhi,” said senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.