Former Union Minister and Kishanganj ex-MP Mohammad Taslimuddin said he was set to join the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U).
“The tentative date we have in mind for the joining ceremony is September 30. The formal function will be held in Kishanganj,” the former RJD leader said when HT contacted him.
The news will undoubtedly cause consternation to Taslimuddin’s arch rival Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, the sitting BJP MP from Bhagalpur, who had earlier represented the Kishanganj Lok Sabha constituency.
Earlier, Hussain had told HT he did not expect Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was so conscious about his clean image, to admit into the JD-U a ‘tainted’ leader like Taslimuddin.
Detailing the developments, Taslimuddin said rumours had gained ground that September 6 had been fixed earlier as the date for his formal admittance into the JD-U. But this was not true.
“A meeting of my supporters in Patna had been set for September 6. A date after the Assembly by-poll end on September 15 was under consideration for my joining. But it’s better to do it after the festivals,” he said.
Taslimuddin confirmed he had already discussed the matter with the apex JD-U leadership. “They are weak in the Kishanganj area. I can provide them strength. And I haven’t demanded a Rajya Sabha berth,” he explained.
“I told the JD-U leadership: if you wish to expose Lalu, I am hazir. They told me in return: you are our old saathi. Let’s work for a better Bihar together,” said Taslimuddin, who had quit the RJD recently.
The former Minister claimed he had spurned feelers from the Congress. “I told them: you have a 10-year wait ahead of you before you can hope to return to power in Bihar,” he said.
Shahnawaz Hussain, on the other hand, recalled that the NDA – which includes the JD-U – had stalled Parliament in protest against Taslimuddin’s inclusion in the Union Council of Ministers and the then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda had to drop him.
Hussain insisted Taslimuddin had ceased to be a popular leader and would prove a liability to any party that admitted him.
“Why else did nobody else resign from the RJD along with him?” he asked.