Sharad, Nitish heap praise on Fernandes

Yadav, who mauled Fernandes in the one-sided election, said, "I have reached this position just because of Fernandes".

india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 20:48 IST

In an apparent bid to assuage a sulking George Fernandes, who along with his supporters had boycotted Tuesday's JD (U) presidential poll, newly elected party President Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday heaped praise on the veteran leader calling him the tallest leader of the party.

Addressing national plenary session on its concluding day, Yadav, who mauled Fernandes in the one-sided election, said, "I have reached this position just because of Fernandes".

Recalling his long association with Fernandes, Yadav said when he was in Jabalpur jail during emergency, Fernandes "fought for my release. He will continue to be our guiding force and his position in the party will remain intact".

Yadav asked the JD (U) workers to realise the importance of the middle class, which had emerged as a "powerful force". "This force is at present aligning with the Congress and BJP. We have to make them rally behind us if we have to broaden our support base," he said.

The newly elected JD (U) president said coalition politics was here to stay and it was in the interest of the country.

Reminding the party workers of the faith that the electorate of Bihar had reposed in the JD (U) and Nitish Kumar, he said, "You have to prove equal to the task of fulfilling the people's expectations. The responsibility of taking Bihar on the path of development is not of Nitish Kumar alone but a collective responsibility of all of us".

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also praised Fernandes and said "not much should be read in his not attending the national council meeting yesterday to elect a new president".

"He was, is and will continue to be our leader," Kumar said.

"George Fernandes is the supreme leader of the party and will continue to command the same respect and stature," he said.

The Chief Minister said he had gone to meet Fernandes twice during the day to invite him to attend the plenary session but he declined.

"Fernandes has his own view points which are good for the party and the democracy," Kumar said adding he was not in favour of a contest for the party's top post "but then election did take place. This shows that inner party democracy exists in JD (U)".

Asserting that "all is well with the party", Kumar said whatever "sense of hurt the election has left will be resolved and the party will emerge even stronger".

"The JD (U) is one and will remain one," he said and advised the party workers not to raise slogans in support of any individual.

Senior party leader and Fernandes' pointsman Digivijay Singh said the "crisis" was over and hoped that the party would definitely gain in strength.

First Published: Apr 12, 2006 20:48 IST