PATNA: In a major setback to Bihar’s ruling JD(U), the party’s prominent Dalit face and former Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary on Wednesday quit the party, attacking Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the central government for the rising atrocities against Dalits and other marginalised groups.
“I have nurtured JD(U) for over 20 years. I am resigning from the party’s primary membership because the current leadership of JD(U) has deviated from its core principles of securing the welfare of the downtrodden,” said Chaudhary to journalists.
The 65-year-old leader, who had been close to JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar for close to two decades, also vowed to make 29-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, the younger son of jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, the next chief minister of Bihar. Chaudhary, however, did not specify whether he would join RJD.
“It is clear that I will work for making RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son Tajashwi the next CM of Bihar. He has all it takes to be the CM of Bihar, and I believe he will become the next CM,” added Chaudhary, who had lost the last Assembly polls to Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, currently an ally of the RJD-led grand alliance.
Chaudhary had been unhappy since Kumar’s return to the BJP-led NDA in July 2017 after walking out of the grand alliance. In recent months, he made his annoyance clear by speaking up against the state and central governments on issues related to the atrocities against Dalits and the dilution of their rights. He was also sulking because JD(U) nominated him neither to Rajya Sabha or the state Legislative Council last month.
“The rights of Dalits and tribals are being curtailed. Atrocities against Dalits, tribals and women have grown under these governments. The latest incident of a girl’s molestation in Jehanabad is a shocking reminder of the worsening situation,” said Chaudhary.
“The party’s dedicated workers are getting demoralised while the dhankuber (moneybags) are being promoted,” added the leader who was Speaker of Bihar Assembly for ten years (2005-2015).
After Jitan Ram Manjhi’s defection from NDA, Chaudhary’s departure is expected to harm the BJP-led alliance’s chances in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the 2020 Assembly polls.
“Both JD(U) and the state government have been working diligently for the empowerment of Dalits. The departure of Chaudhary will not impact the party,” said senior JD(U) leader and former minister Shyam Rajak.
“He (Chaudhary) must answer how he can join hands with those (RJD) under whose rule 36 massacres of Dalits took place in Bihar. He quit because of his crisis of political employment,” said JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Neeraj Kumar.
Arjun Rai, a leader of the rebel JD(U) faction led by veteran leader Sharad Yadav invited Chaudhary to join their proposed new party, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), at its foundation ceremony in New Delhi on May 18. But Chaudhary has kept his cards close to his chest now.