Bihar’s ruling ‘grand alliance’ partners - the RJD and JD (U), are once again at odds with each other, this time over the prized post of chairman of the state legislative council.
The man in the eye of this dispute is incumbent council chairman Awadhesh Narayan Singh, a BJP man who held on to the post with the blessings of chief minister Nitish Kumar, even after BJP and JD (U) parted ways in June 2013.
Singh has just retained his Gaya graduate’s seat in the council. Though he is slated to retire on May 9, victory in the council poll early Thursday means he is eligible to be re-elected as chairman of the council for a fresh term. But GA senior partner, the RJD, is no mood to let him through.
The RJD leadership is upset with the news that CM Kumar and his party had ‘backed’ Singh in the council poll, even though nominees of the other GA constituents - the RJD and Congress, were also in the fray, enabling him to secure a runaway victory.
With the relations between the RJD and JD (U) at a low ebb, especially after RJD senior leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s provocative statements against CM Kumar, the RJD leadership is in no mood to give the JD (U) leadership a free hand in choosing the council chairman.
“The Council chairman will be from the RJD and Awadhesh is not an RJD man,” said former chief minister and RJD MLC Rabri Devi, on Thursday. “The chairman will be decided not by CM Nitish Kumar but by the grand alliance leaders, as a whole” , she added.
Rabri was backed by her son,deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, who also said that the GA leaders would decide the next chairman.
Yadav also took a dig at the decision of grand alliance partners to contest the council elections independently of each other. “The results would have been different had we contested jointly. The GA won wherever we were united,” the deputy CM told media persons on Thursday.
The JD (U), on its part, tried to downplay the whole issue. “The party congratulates Singh for his victory. The issue of chairmanship will be decided after his term ends on May 8,” said JD (U) spokesperson and MLC, Neeraj Kumar.
The politics over the chairman’s post reared its head after Singh, soon after his victory, thanked the chief minister for his support in the council poll. State BJP’s former president Mangal Pandey followed it up by thanking Kumar for setting a good precedence.
In the 75 member legislative council, GA has 44 members and NDA 25.
Already under strain because of exchange of words between senior leaders of the two parties, the relations between the RJD and JD (U) , any stand off over the post of council chairman can only worsen the ties between the two parties and impact the longevity of the GA government.