JD(U) will defend George, but on conditions
According to party sources, their support to him in the coming days would be conditional, depending on his attitude towards them, reports Hemendra Singh Bartwal.Updated: Oct 11, 2006 23:06 IST
Overlooking their bitter differences with former JD(U) chief George Fernandes, his party colleagues Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav have spoken up in his defence on the Barak missiles purchase deal.
But their formal response appears lukewarm, lacking the strong conviction of the backing extended to the NDA convenor by ally BJP on Wednesday.
According to party sources, their support to him in the coming days would be conditional, depending on his attitude towards them.
If he continues to rail against the duo, as he has been doing in the recent days, he cannot expect them to stand by him in his hour of crisis, a senior leader said.
"The question is whether he (Fernandes) will defend the party or not. If he states that Nitish Kumar is worse than LaluYadav (as Chief Minister of Bihar), how can we say that he is better than someone else?", the JD(U) leader asserted.
He held that the former defence minister had invited trouble upon himself by keeping persons like the then Samata Party president JayaJaitley and treasurer RK Jain (both accused in the case) around him.
The veteran socialist leader, who has been completely marginalised in the party ever since he was usurped from the president’s position by the Nitish-Sharad combine earlier this year, has frequently targeted the JD(U)-led government in Bihar accusing it of poor performance.
His supporters have accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and party chief Sharad Yadav of subverting democracy within the party and stifling dissent.
However, despite their strained relations, Kumar stated in Patna that Fernandes' integrity was above doubt and he had been implicated in the case due to political vendetta. Yadav, who was contacted on telephone in Allahabad, was more guarded in his response and declined to say anything more than that the CBI move appeared to be "politically motivated".
In Delhi, a senior party leader said they would see how he "behaved" at the rally in Patna this evening, which was organised by his supporters to observe the birth anniversary of socialist icon Jai Prakash Narayan.
They would also observe his stance at the public function in Lucknow on Thursday, being organised at the behest of his "close friend" Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the occasion of the death anniversary of another socialist movement veteran, Ram ManoharLohia.
"If he continues to attack Nitish and holds out praise for Mulayam, whose Samajwadi Party will be opposed by NDA in UP elections, then let Lalu and Mulayam come to his defence. Why would he need us?", he pointed out.
The development in the Barak deal case may actually come as a relief to the JD(U) leadership which had been watching the moves of Fernandes and his disgruntled supporters with anxiety as there was talk of reviving the dormant Samata Party. Now, it is felt, he may be forced to tone down his campaign against Kumar and Yadav as he would need the party’s support in the troubled times ahead.
First Published: Oct 11, 2006 23:06 IST