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Sharad Yadav, others ‘unhappy’ with Nitish’s withdrawal from Grand Alliance

JD (U) ex-chief Yadav is said to be unhappy with incumbent president Nitish Kumar’s decision late last month to withdraw his party from the grand alliance and form a new government in Bihar with the BJP.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2017 00:02 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Goodbye time? Sharad and Nitish have been together since Samata Party merged with Janata Dal, in 2003.
Goodbye time? Sharad and Nitish have been together since Samata Party merged with Janata Dal, in 2003. (PTI file photo)

The possibility of a split in Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United) swirled on Wednesday, after the party broke ranks with the RJD and Congress to form a new government with the BJP on July 27.

Several JD(U) leaders, including former party chief Sharad Yadav, are said to be unhappy with chief minister Nitish Kumar’s alleged unilateral decision to withdraw from the three-party grand alliance and realign with the BJP.

Talk of a division increased after Yadav declared a four-day tour of Bihar from Thursday to assess the mood of party workers.

Besides, RJD chief Lalu Prasad also fanned the flames on Wednesday, saying the grand alliance still exists as his party, the “Sharad Yadav-led JD(U)” and Congress are partners.

In New Delhi, Yadav said he will go to Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura.

His visit to Muzaffarpur coincides with RJD leader and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s public meeting there.

According to a close associate of Yadav, who didn’t wish to be named, the “developments indicate that the JD(U) may be headed for a split”.

Yadav has called the Kumar-BJP alliance “a betrayal of the people’s mandate” in the 2015 assembly elections, which the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance won.

The Bihar unit of the JD(U) detached itself from Yadav’s tour.

“The party has nothing to do with his visit. It is his personal trip,” said JD(U) state president and Rajya Sabha member Bashistha Narayan Singh.

But a sense of uneasiness has surrounded the party over Yadav’s programme.

“The rules and principles were laid by Sharadji and if he himself is shying away from following them, then it is a serious issue,” said JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.

The developments happened in the backdrop of the JD(U) sacking its Gujarat unit general secretary Arun Kumar Srivastava, who is said to be close to Yadav, after the contentious Rajya Sabha election in the state on Tuesday.

Party general secretary KC Tyagi sent the sack letter to Srivastava for writing to the returning officer without authorisation.

“The party president (Nitish Kumar) has taken a serious note of the issue and has relieved you of your responsibility from the post of general secretary,” Tyagi said in his letter.

The JD(U)’s lone Gujarat legislator, Chhotubhai Vasava, voted for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel, who won the election by a single vote. He defied his party high command’s whip to vote for the BJP.

Vasava said he cross-voted in protest against party chief Kumar’s decision to dump the RJD and Congress.

Former party chief Yadav was also against the JD(U)’s official line of supporting the BJP candidates in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election and NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind for President.

Sources said he was trying to provoke Kumar to throw him out of the party.

“If he is removed, he will not lose his Rajya Sabha membership. But if he splits, he will lose his seat in Parliament,” explained a JD(U) leader.

Signs of a rift between Yadav and Kumar surfaced months ago after the chief minister began supporting NDA policies, including the demonetisation drive and implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).

For his part, Yadav had supported RJD’s Prasad after the July 7 CBI raids on his home and other properties. He also announced his intention to join the RJD’s anti-BJP rally in Patna on August 27.

“Sharadji is a founder-member of JD(U) and has worked tirelessly to set its principles,” said Prasad.

Incidentally, the original Janata Dal split in 1997 after Prasad was charged in a multi-crore fodder scam during his tenure as chief minister, a legal case the RJD chief is fighting all these years.