Power games: Nitish’s JD(U) apprehends Sena-like split bid

The Janata Dal (United) leadership in Bihar suspects that its ally and coalition partner in the state, the BJP, may use former Union minister RCP Singh to split the JD(U).
Power games: Nitish’s JD(U) apprehends Sena-like split bid

Marriage of Inconvenience
Nitish’s JD(U) apprehends Sena-like split bid

The Janata Dal (United) leadership in Bihar suspects that its ally and coalition partner in the state, the BJP, may use former Union minister RCP Singh to split the JD(U). Party leaders say there are reports that an attempt is likely to be made to split the party MLAs on the lines of Shiv Sena. RCP Singh, sources said, was seen as a potential Eknath Shinde in Bihar. The JD(U) leadership has, therefore, moved quickly to not only cut Singh to size but even embroil him in cases that would completely discredit and weaken him so that he is unable to attract enough MLAs to cause a clean split in the JD(U) legislature party. The party issued Singh a show-cause notice asking him why action should not be taken against him for accumulating large tracts of land, valued much beyond his known sources of income, over the last few years when he occupied high positions in party and Union government. The notice was clearly a precursor to the party showing him the door. Singh sensed the party’s design and decided to quit the JD(U) rather than explaining how he acquired the properties. Singh has been the closest confidant of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. At one point, he ran the party as well as the government for Kumar. But after he was made a minister in the Modi Cabinet, reports started appearing about his growing proximity with the BJP. Kumar initially dismissed these reports. But his subsequent actions proved the reports were correct and the threat was real. Singh was dropped from the Rajya Sabha and made to resign from the Union Cabinet.

Loaves & Fishes of Power
Trouble brews in Eknath group over Cabinet berth

It’s more than a month since leader of Shiv Sena breakaway group Eknath Shinde was sworn in as chief minister of Maharashtra. But the swearing-in of his new ministry has been stuck. Shinde has made several trips to Delhi along with his deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of supporting party BJP to work out a power-sharing formula. BJP wants a staggered induction. Shinde’s MLAs are pressuring him for rewards for their loyalty. Shinde, therefore, wants to complete the ministry-making exercise in one go. Talks have been going on. But the matter remains unresolved. Sources said that Shinde has told the BJP that he would not like to place one set of MLAs over the other. He, therefore, cannot have a staggered expansion. As the tussle over the size of ministry continues, the swearing-in that was slated to take place on August 5 had to be put off. Sources close to the chief minister said that he was under a lot of pressure from his MLAs who are all demanding their pound of flesh. Maharashtra can have not more than 43 ministers. The BJP is demanding half of the ministerial berths. This leaves 21 ministerial posts for the Shinde camp, which has twice as many MLAs coveting these posts. Shinde must surely be finding splitting Shiv Sena easier than keeping the flock together.

All eggs in one basket
Haryana Congress remains a divided house

All is not well in the Haryana unit of the Congress party. A day after former chief minister Bhajan Lal’s son Kuldeep Bishnoi joined the BJP, the party served a show-cause notice to former Congress Legislature Party leader Kiran Choudhary, daughter-in-law of former chief minister Bansi Lal, considered to be the architect of modern Haryana. Kuldeep and Kiran had caused the defeat of Congress candidate Ajay Maken in the recent Rajya Sabha election. While Kuldeep voted for an independent candidate, Kiran marked her vote wrongly, resulting in its disqualification. The party has now asked her to explain why action should not be taken against her for causing the defeat of the party candidate. Kiran is already upset with the party leadership for replacing her with former chief minister Bhupinder Sigh Hooda as the CLP leader and not accommodating her elsewhere. Kiran’s daughter Shruti Choudhary, who is a state Congress working president, boycotted the state party unit’s chintan shivir at Chandigarh last week. There are indications that Kiran may choose to resign from Congress rather than reply to the show-cause notice. With Kiran and Kuldeep out, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who recently forced the central leadership to remove Kumari Selja and appoint his protégé Udaybhan as the state Congress president, would have complete control over the party in Haryana. Hooda had earlier forced former state unit president Ashok Tanwar out of the party. Will putting all its eggs in one basket help Congress in the elections next year is a topic of animated debate in Congress circles.

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