Veteran RJD leader Ali Ashraf Fatmi joins Janata Dal(U)
Four-time Member of Parliament and former Union minister Mohammad Ali Ashraf Fatmi, who quit RJD in April this year, joined the ruling Janata Dal (United) on Sunday and announced to work among the minority community to convert their “contemplation” for siding with chief minister Nitish Kumar into a reality.
“The circumstances have changed after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Around two crore minority population in the state (Bihar) are seriously mulling over the option of walking with Nitish Kumar, whose agenda for social amity, development with justice and unwavering stand on minority issues, despite being in alliance with the BJP, is growing in appeal,” Fatmi said.
The former Union minister, who severed his 30 years of association with Rashtriya Janata Dal, following denial of Lok Sabha ticket from Darbhanga, was critical of his former party, which, he said, had become burdened by “moneybags”. “When a party strikes friendship with the rich, its politics and commitment for poor gets overshadowed. RJD is paying the price for hobnobbing with such elements,” he said.
Indicating that signs of a wholesale shift in the loyalties of minorities were getting pronounced, he said “like me, the community has to do some introspection over the reasons whether it was proper to stick with old favourites or to consider new friends in larger interest.”
Fatmi assured Bihar JD(U) president Bashistha Narayan Singh, who while inducting him into the party-fold reminded him of the dissimilar working styles of the two parties (RJD and JD-U), that he would spread the message of Nitish Kumar and his party in Mithilanchal and rest of the state.
Apparently, Singh was indicating that JD (U) was not a power oriented party but one that had created a niche for itself by acting as an agent of change, by taking up cudgels against social evils like child marriage, dowry and alcohol abuse.
The JD (U) state president, on his part, acknowledged that the joining of a person like Fatmi was an important event and an endorsement of the party’s vision, leadership and capacity to move forward, despite the initial hiccups.
Fatmi said that a limited number of his sympathisers and leaders were being inducted as the party had instructed so, but a large number of his supporters and well wishers will join the party at a public meeting of chief minister Nitish Kumar at Darbhanga in November. Prominent among those present on the occasion included former MP and minister Mangni Lal Mandal, Sanjay Singh, Sanjay Gandhi, Rajeev Ranjan Prasad and Naveen Arya.