Burying nearly two decades of differences, former chief minister and senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Saturday sought RJD president Lalu Prasad’s support to ensure victory of his two candidates in the ensuing Rajya Sabha by-elections.
It is for the first time that Kumar publicly admitted to have sought support from the RJD chief since 1994.
Kumar’s desperate move comes in the face of strong challenge from party rebels, which could end in defeats of his candidates in the polls without outside support.
While party president Sharad Yadav has been elected unopposed, JD(U)’s Pavan Kumar Verma and Gulam Rasool Baliyawi are facing challenge from independent candidates Anil Kumar Sharma and Shabir Ali, respectively, who enjoy the backing of close to 24 JD(U) rebels besides 84 BJP legislators.
Deviating from his stated position at his maiden press conference after resigning from the CM post, Kumar made a fervent appeal to the RJD, the Congress and the CPI to extend support to the JD(U) nominees to foil “BJP’s conspiracy” to destabilise the Jitan Ram Manjhi government in Bihar.
“I have spoken to Lalu Prasad, Congress state chief Ashok Choudhary, its legislature party leader Sadanand Singh and CPI state secretary Rajendra Prasad Singh, seeking their support for the victory of two JD(U) candidates in the by-poll,” Kumar said.
He also said the RJD, Congress and CPI had already extended support to the Jitan Ram Manjhi government. “Now, it is imperative on their part to continue the support in the Rajya Sabha elections,” he said.
Asked whether such an initiative was any indication of a future political alliance between the RJD and JD(U), Kumar said the present adjustment is needed.
“We are not talking about any future political pact. We are collectively facing a threat and have to fight in jointly,” he said.
Though, Prasad could not be contacted, sources close to the RJD chief said the party has reacted ‘positively’ to Kumar’s appeal.
However, the RJD would weigh the “winability factor” of the JD(U)’s nominees before taking any decision in this regard.