Advantage Sharad Yadav as rebel faction wins 2 seats in Gujarat polls to JD(U)’s zilch
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Advantage Sharad Yadav as rebel faction wins 2 seats in Gujarat polls to JD(U)’s zilch

The Sharad Yadav faction had contested under the ‘autorickshaw’ symbol of Chhotubhai Vasava’s Bharatiya Tribal Party. The JD(U)’s drubbing is seen as a setback to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s political expansion plans.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2017 18:55 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Sharad Yadav,Janata Dal(United),JD(U)
Sharad Yadav’s faction split from the Janata Dal (United) after the latter broke off ties with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and cozied up to the BJP to retain power in Bihar.(PTI File)

It’s advantage Sharad Yadav.

A couple of months after parting ways with the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), the rebel faction led by Yadav contested from five seats in the Gujarat assembly elections to win two. The main party, on the other hand, could not even open its account in the state despite fielding candidates from 38 constituencies.

The Janata Dal (United) – also known as the JD(U) – is part of the National Democratic Alliance and heads the Bihar government in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yadav’s faction split from the main party after the latter broke off ties with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and cozied up to the BJP to remain in power.

The Yadav faction contested the Gujarat polls under the ‘autorickshaw’ symbol of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), an organisation founded by popular tribal leader Chhotubhai Vasava. The fledgling party managed to win two seats in the Gujarat assembly polls, with Vasava’s son Mahesh emerging victorious from Dediapada.

The BTP got 0.7% of the total vote share. Vasava, a former JD(U) member, had floated the party in the last week of November.

“It is a loss of face for Nitish Kumar. He attempted to make the JD(U) an all-India party but could not even open an account in Gujarat. What’s more, he left Uttar Pradesh even before polls in that state could begin earlier this year,” said Shambhu Srivastava, vice-president of the Yadav faction.

As his organisation is yet to be named, they are calling it ‘JD(U) Sharad Yadav’ for now. “We had Vasava’s support in the Gujarat polls,” said Srivastava.

JD(U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi, however, shrugged off the BTP’s victory. “They are technically not with Sharad Yadav even though they contested on the autorickshaw symbol, which – like the arrow symbol – is very popular among tribals,” he said.

The results, however, do not reflect his claim. The JD(U) performed best at Jhagadia, which saw a BTP victory. Here, the JD(U) candidate came third with 5,055 votes while the party scored less than 300 in at least seven constituencies. When the JD(U) contested from 65 seats in the 2012 Gujarat polls, it forfeited deposits on 64 but found a lone winner in Vasava.

The JD(U)’s negligible vote share in this electoral contest is seen as a setback to the Bihar chief minister’s efforts to expand its base outside Bihar. The party had decided against contesting the Uttar Pradesh polls after failing miserably in Assam and Kerala.

The JD(U) contested four seats in Assam in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), but could not win a single one. The party lost all seats in Kerala, including those of two sitting MLAs, despite allying with the Congress-led United Democratic Front and trying to woo voters with its ‘Bihar prohibition success story’.

A party leader admitted on the condition of anonymity that the JD(U)’s primary agenda was to become a national party before the next general elections. “But, for that, it needs to win seats and increase its vote share in various states,” he said.

According to the criteria set by the Election Commission, a national party needs to get at least 6% votes from a minimum of four states, 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha from at least three states, or be recognised as a state party in at least four states.

As of now, only the BJP, Congress, CPI(M), BSP and the NCP are recognised as national parties. India has 47 state-level political organisations.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 18:55 IST