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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Bihar power game: Lalu loses Nitish, but finds new friends

Opposition parties are rallying behind Lalu despite corruption cases against him and his family members

india Updated: Jul 29, 2017 00:54 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Opposition parties are backing Lalu despite corruption cases against him and his family members after Nitish Kumar deserted him
Opposition parties are backing Lalu despite corruption cases against him and his family members after Nitish Kumar deserted him (PTI File Photo )

Many Congress leaders would recall how party vice president Rahul Gandhi would hail Nitish Kumar and Sheila Dikshit as “great” chief ministers in internal meetings.

But on Thursday, Gandhi had a bitter tone: “People do anything for their selfish motives. There is no principle, no credibility. They can do anything for power.”

He was referring to Bihar chief minister and JD (U) leader’s move to dump the mahagatbandhan or the grand alliance, of which the Congress was a part, to form a government in the state with the BJP’s support.

Kumar snapped ties with the alliance on Wednesday following an impasse with coalition partner Rashtriya Janata Dal over the fate of Lalu’s son Tejashwi — the state’s deputy CM who has been accused of corruption.

Soon after resigning as chief minister, Kumar came back at the helm holding BJP’s hands, serving a blow to Opposition’s plan of forging a Bihar-type grand alliance to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had been nurturing an excellent working relation with her Bihar counterpart. Plans were afoot for joint rallies of different Opposition parties against the Modi government. But the admiration for Nitish’s style of governance has suddenly disappeared from her mind. “He has been exposed. This is sheer opportunism, ” Banerjee said in close quarters.

Within hours after Lalu Prasad lost Kumar in Bihar’s power game , he found other Opposition parties rallying behind him despite corruption cases against him and his family members.

“We are with Lalu ji. These cases are a part of political vendetta,” said Banerjee in close quarters.

Some of her party leaders too, are facing graft charges. The Congress and other parties took similar position and the Opposition had demanded a debate on the issue, defending Prasad.

The CPI(M), which usually stays away from stains of corruption, sided with Lalu and slammed Kumar as a “rank opportunist”. “Anyone who supports BJP now backs lynching of minorities, atrocities against Dalits, pushing farmers to suicide and making our youth jobless,” announced party general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Lalu Prasad announced that he would go on with his protest rallies with Mayawati of Bahujan Samaj Party and Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party—indicating further support for him.

Kumar’s sudden shift to the BJP has not just baffled the Opposition parties, it has angered them.

CPI(M) politburo members recall how they frequently met Kumar whenever they went to Patna. “He always complained that we have pushed him to the BJP. But now, when secular parties are united and Kumar is playing an important role, he voluntarily shifted to the other side,” said a politburo member.

Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, however, took a different stand and said, “In politics, ultimately, it’s not numbers but chemistry that works. Nitish has played a good stroke,” said BJD’s Lok Sabha floor leader Bhartruhari Mahtab.

First Published: Jul 28, 2017 11:19 IST

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