Veteran socialist leader George Fernandes, whose Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has denied him a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls, on Wednesday announced he was ready to run from his Muzaffarpur constituency and would formally announce this on Thursday after holding discussions with his friends and supporters.
"Main taiyyar hun, main hun taiyyar (I am ready to contest)" Fernandes repeatedly said in chaste Hindi at a press conference he addressed in Muzaffarpur, about 70 km fromPatna.
Fernandes lost his cool when asked about the ticket denial, his ill-health and the Congress.
"The people of Muzaffarpur will decide whether I should contest or not because they had elected me to parliament time and again," Fernandes maintained.
He was elected from Muzaffarpur for the first time in 1977 when he was behind bars. He had been jailed in 1976 for allegedly conspiring to blow up government property to protest the emergency that had been declared a year earlier. The Janata Party that came to power in 1977 withdrew the case.
Replying to a query, Fernandes said people talking about his ill-health would get a fitting reply after the Lok Sabha polls.
Fernandes had received a hero's welcome from hundreds of supporters at the Patna airport on his arrival from New Delhi on Tuesday. He left for Muzaffarpur soon after.
He also cancelled his padyatra (foot march) to the official residence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with whom he had sought an appointment to discuss the JD-U decision of denying him a ticket. This was after he was informed the chief minister had left for New Delhi.
Fernandes had planned to walk to Nitish Kumar's residence to demonstrate he is in sound health and he can still contest elections. The JD-U had denied Fernandes, 78, a ticket on grounds of his 'advancing years and failing health'.