Congress’ shift towards Lalu alters equations within ruling grand alliance
The Congress backing for the RJD chief came on the back of his party’s support to its Presidential candidate Meira Kumar and JD (U) chief Nitish Kumar’s endorsement of her rival, NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind.india Updated: Jul 10, 2017 13:24 IST
PATNA The Congress’ unequivocal backing for RJD chief Lalu Prasad on the issue of the CBI raids on his premises, on Friday, appeared to mark a shift in the stand of the party, which had shown a clear inclination towards the chief minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) in terms of the equations within the ruling grand alliance.
BPCC chief Ashok Chaudhary and Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh, known for their proximity with Kumar, visited Prasad’s residence after the raids, reportedly on the directive of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) leadership.
Not only did they express solidarity with the RJD chief, but also expressed their support for his younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, who is under pressure from the opposition BJP to resign as deputy CM after the CBI named him in an FIR in the ‘land for railways hotels’ case.
The Congress backing for RJD chief came on the back of Lalu-led party’s support to the Congress backed opposition Presidential candidate Meira Kumar. Nitish has, on the other hand, angered the Congress by announcing the JD(U)’s support for NDA Presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, till recently the governor of Bihar.
As such, after their meeting with Prasad at his 10, Circular Road residence in Patna, Choudhary and Sadanand Singh not only attacked the BJP-led government at the Centre for targeting the RJD chief and his family out of political vendetta, but also declared that they were with Prasad in his hour of crisis.
Soon after returning from New Delhi, former Union minister Akhilesh Prasad Singh had criticised Kumar for his observation over the Congress’ ideology and dared him to clarify if he wanted to remain in the GA or team up with the BJP. Senior Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra also backed Lalu on the raids.
The JD(U)-Congress chasm expressed itself when Nitish moved to the resort town of Rajger to ‘recuperate’ just ahead of Meira Kumar’s arrival in Patna last week to seek support for her candidature.
As the Congress leadership waited for the CM’s reaction to the BJP’s demand for Tejashwi’s sacking, there were signs that Lalu’s onslaught on the saffron brigade had qualified him as a major keg in the bid for a united opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
A senior AICC leader said although the Congress would strive to ward off any crack in the Grand Alliance, for its larger political strategy, the party would rely more on Lalu Prasad, who had proved to be a more tested and trusted ally than the JD(U).
However, the Congress’ capacity for manoeuvre was limited, considering it had just 27 MLAs to the RJD’s 80 and the JD(U)’s 71 in the 243 member Bihar assembly.
As Congress leadership waited for Nitish’s reaction to BJP demand for Tejashwi’s sacking, there were signs that Lalu’s onslaught on saffron brigade qualified him as major keg in bid for united Oppn against PM Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha poll
After meeting Prasad, Choudhary and Sadanand Singh attacked the BJP-led government at the Centre for targeting RJD chief and his family out of political vendetta and also declared that they were with Prasad in his hour of crisis.