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RJD not pleased with Congress overtures for Nitish Kumar’s comeback in Grand Alliance

Speculations about Nitish Kumar’s possible realignment with GA were ignited earlier this week when he made a phone call to RJD chief Lalu Prasad to enquire about his health.

patna Updated: Jun 30, 2018 10:41 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
RJD,Grand Alliance,JDU
File photo of RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari . (HT File )

The relationship between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress has come under strain after the grand oldl party has shown inclination to allow chief minister Nitish Kumar return to the secular alliance to fight the BJP in 2019 general polls.

On Friday, party’s top leaders said that RJD being the senior partner in Grand Alliance in Bihar with highest vote share had the right to take a call on alliance matters.

Speculations about Nitish’s possible realignment with GA were ignited earlier this week when he made a phone call to RJD chief Lalu Prasad to enquire about his health. However, Lalu’s son and leader of opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was quick to reject any such possibility, taunting the JD(U) strongman for making a ‘ late call’ and reiterated that Nitish wasn’t welcome in GA anymore.

Nitish had broken ties with GA to realign with the BJP last year.

“Our leader Tejashwi has already cleared party’s stand on Nitish,” said RJD’s national vice president Shivanand Tiwary. On senior Congress leader Shakil Ahmed Khan’s take that Tejashwi was not authorised to speak on alliance matters, Tiwary said, “Tejashwi is our leader and he is our chief ministerial candidate for 2020 elections. He is the one authorised to take all decisions of the party. The Congress can take a call on alliance issues at the national level.”

Top sources in the RJD said Nitish’s flip-flop in changing alliance partners in last few years by first snapping ties with BJP and then again breaking ranks with grand alliance to realign with the saffron outfit in July 2017 has made him an untrustworthy partner.

“ Nitish’s maneuvering to join the grand alliance is seen as an effort to increase his bargaining for seats in the BJP-led NDA. It’s a closed chapter now. Kumar has lost his credibility,” said a senior RJD leader.

Insiders said that RJD’s top brass was toying with the idea of going alone in the next Lok Sabha polls minus Congress if it insisted on Nitish’s return to GA fold. However, Tejashwi’s close relationship with Congress president Rahul Gandhi might help break some ice in future.

“ Lalu’s conviction and harassment of RJD’s first family by the Centre, has augured well for the RJD that has increased its vote share. It’s Muslim- Yadav combination is intact. Even EBCs have shifted allegiance to RJD from JD (U) and it was visible in the by-poll results in Araria, Jehanabad and Jokihat. The Congress is a small force in the state and it should understand the poll dynamics,” said a senior RJD leader close to RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

He said the RJD having remained intact despite Lalu’s incarceration was another example of how Tejashwi had emerged as the top leader of the party and had the backing of all senior leaders and 80 MLAs.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 10:41 IST