Lalu asks JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav to lead fight; dissent in NDA over cabinet berths
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Lalu asks JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav to lead fight; dissent in NDA over cabinet berths

Bihar was hit by a political earthquake on July 26 when Nitish Kumar resigned and ended his Janata Dal (United)’s two-year alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2017 07:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Patna, Hindustan Times
Lalu Prasad,Sharad Yadav,Nitish Kumar
RJD chief Lalu Prasad with wife Rabri Devi and son Tej Pratap at a party meeting in Patna on Thursday. (PTI)

Patna Dumped and still seething, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad is looking to get back at chief minister Nitish Kumar whose decision to go with the BJP has reportedly upset senior party colleague Sharad Yadav.

Prasad invited the Janata Dal (United) co-founder Yadav to lead the fight against the BJP and Kumar, who, he said, had joined hands with “communal and fascist forces and betrayed the people’s mandate”.

“Nitish has tarnished the image of Ambedkar. I urge Sharad Yadav, whom we consider the true leader, to travel to every corner of the country and come to Bihar and join our fight against the BJP and Nitish Kumar,” Prasad told ANI on Saturday.

On July 26, Kumar resigned as the chief minister and ended two-year alliance with the RJD and the Congress over corruption charges against his deputy and Prasad’s son Tejashwi Yadav.

The 66-year-old leader returned as chief minister for the sixth time in less than 18 hours with the support of the BJP, the party he had broken ties with in 2013 after it picked Narendra Modi as the PM candidate.

“I talked to Sharad Yadav over phone. I appeal to him that come and go to every corner of country, and take command of this fight,” Prasad said.

Yadav is not the only party leader unhappy with Kumar’s decision. Members of Parliament Ali Anwar and Veerendra Kumar have voiced their displeasure publically over JD (U)’s return to the NDA.

Yadav has not spoken to media but conveyed his misgivings through party leaders. Kumar and finance minister Arun Jaitley spoke to Yadav and tried to mollify him, sources said.

The RJD chief said they would launch a “Desh bachao, BJP bhagao (save the nation, throw out the BJP)” movement.

Kumar’s decision to end the so-called grand alliance not only altered dramatically the political scenario in India’s third most populous state but also dealt a blow to the opposition parties looking to replicate the Bihar model to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Kumar sailed through the trust vote on Friday, getting the support of 131 members in 243-strong Bihar assembly.

A 27-member cabinet -- 14 from the JD(U), 12 from the BJP and one from the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) – was sworn in the next day. Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had taken oath as deputy chief minister along with Kumar on Friday.

Rumblings in NDA

The cabinet is the latest sticking point within the NDA.

Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi expressed disappointment over his Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) “nominees” being left out.

Though he is the only MLA from his party, Manjhi wanted three cabinet berths, a demand that didn’t go down well with the JD(U) and the BJP.

Manjhi is upset that while his claims were overlooked another NDA ally, the LJP, managed to get a place in the cabinet.

He accused LJP leader and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan of being power hungry. “The LJP chief’s political greed is not yet satisfied. He took his family to the chief minister’s residence and demanded a cabinet berth. Is this the state of politics today?” Manji told news agency ANI after the oath ceremony that he stayed away from.

Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras was sworn in as the animal husbandry and fisheries minister.

Manjhi declined the offer to join the cabinet, saying after having served as chief minister he couldn’t be a minister. There were also indications that Union minister Upendra Prasad Kushwaha was unhappy over his Rashtriya Lok Samta Party going unrepresented in the cabinet.

Kushwaha pushed for Harlakhi MLA Sudhanshu Shekhar but Kumar turned him down, sources said.

The CM is reportedly upset over some remarks made by Kushwaha.

(With agency inputs)

QUOTE

Nitish has tarnished image of Ambedkar. I urge Sharad Yadav, whom we consider true leader, to travel to every corner of country, then come to Bihar and join our fight against BJP, Nitish

Lalu Prasad, RJD president

First Published: Jul 30, 2017 14:52 IST