Call it after-effect of BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections or growing restlessness among Grand Alliance (GA) partners in Bihar, a ‘courtesy’ meeting between a Union minister of state and two JD(U) legislators on Holi on Monday evening has again sent tongues wagging in the ruling combine.
The bitterness between the two has reached such a level that an RJD MLA went on to quote the numbers in the alliance, while casting suspicions on the BJP intent.
The fresh round of war of words started when Union minister Ram Kripal Yadav (BJP) and JD(U) MLA Shyam Rajak – both erstwhile RJD men – went to meet JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Sanjay Singh at his residence on Monday. The meeting in the backdrop of the Uttar Pradesh assembly results was enough to spark alarm in the RJD camp.
“The RJD is keeping tabs on who is meeting whom,” said Bhai Birendra, RJD MLA from Maner. “Nobody in the alliance should have a feeling that we are on a weak footing; or anybody else can run our party. We have 80 MLAs,” he said.
In the 243-member Bihar assembly, the RJD, the JD(U) and the Congress have formed the grand alliance with 80, 71 and 27 members, respectively. The NDA has 58 members in the House.
Maintaining that grand alliance is intact, JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh, at whose house the ‘courtesy’ meeting took place, wondered why the RJD people were making a fuss over a courtesy call.
“JD(U) leaders are free to meet anybody. It seems they (RJD men) have turned mentally sick,” said Singh.
“By not joining the secular alliance in UP, Kumar confused the voters and thereby helped the BJP secure a big win.”
However, the accusations had begun earlier on Saturday, when UP assembly poll results were declared. Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh blamed chief minister Nitish Kumar for the defeat of the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
“By not joining the secular alliance in UP, Kumar confused the voters and thereby helped the BJP secure a big win,” alleged Singh, a former Union minister.
The direct verbal attack on Kumar angered JD(U) leaders, who asked the RJD’s top leadership to ‘shut Singh up’. “Raghuvansh should be kicked out of party immediately,” demanded JD(U) leader Shyam Rajak.
RJD leader Singh alleged that Kumar helped the BJP, first by breaking ranks with the other opposition parties to back PM’s move to demonetise high value currency notes and then by ‘wavering’ in his stand on whether, or not the JD(U) should contest UP assembly polls.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, however, had said, “To say that Nitish did not help is wrong. He helped by not fielding candidates, but had he campaigned, it would have made a difference to the final result in UP.”
Kumar’s JD(U) neither contested the UP polls, nor did it support any party or alliance, whereas the RJD went all out to support the Samajwadi Party (SP).
NDA leader and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi also added to the already growing confusion in the GA ranks by predicting a massive change in Bihar political scenario post-UP assembly results. While the results have put CM Kumar in a dilemma, SP’s loss in UP loss has put a stop, at least for the time being, of RJD’s effort to assert in governance.
The muck hasn’t stopped. Bhai Birendra further stoked the fire by saying that their leader Lalu Prasad is capable of deciding the future course of direction while Raghuvansh alleged that JD(U) was using ‘small leaders’ to attack him.
What is baffling is the silence of senior party leaders of both the alliance. The third alliance partner, the Congress, on the other hand, advised restraint on all sides.