DAYS AFTER Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar praised the Centre for demonetisation and distanced the JD(U) from any agitation against it, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan added fuel to talk about the JD(U) and the BJP coming together again. The LJP chief said Monday he would “welcome” it if the JD(U) joins the NDA and helps dismiss the Opposition protests as a “flop show”.
The Congress and the RJD acknowledged “some differences” with the JDU on the “action component” of their stand about demonetisation. The RJD, however, categorically ruled out a break-up while the Congress said there is no such possibility “as of now… let us see how the situation develops.” Paswan said, “As an NDA member, I would be happy if the NDA gets strengthened and hence will welcome it if the JD(U) joins our alliance. But this is a matter between BJP and JD(U)… I welcome Nitishji. He has done the right thing… I condemn the Congress and the RJD for their stand.”
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JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, who had been strategising about a coordinated Opposition protest against inconveniences to people, insisted there is “no difference” between his stand and Nitish’s as the party had “never opposed demonetisation”. JD(U) MP Harivansh, who has written an article hailing demonetisation, insists that there is “no such thing” as BJP-JDU coming together. “Nitish has always risen above the party line on national issues. When he was in the NDA, he had supported UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee for President… After the strike across the LoC, Nitish said there should be no bickering on defence and external affairs issues,” Harivansh said. He also mentioned issues on which the JD(U) has attacked the BJP.
C P Joshi, AICC general secretary in-charge for Bihar, noted that Nitish is not just Bihar CM but also JD(U) president, though he declined to discuss why Nitish has taken such a stand on demonetisation. Bihar Congress chief Ashok Kumar Chaudhary, a minister in Nitish’s government said, “At this stage it will not be correct to reach a conclusion in haste that the alliance is breaking up… Every political party has its own views… It’s not that we are having a merger with Nitish or the RJD, or that they should endorse every decision of the Congress.”
Asked about the future of the alliance in Bihar, he said, “I don’t think there is any issue on this current matter. Let us see how the situation develops.” Senior RJD leader Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav dismissed speculation about Nitish and the BJP. “Just one issue is being stretched to this level. The RJD-JD(U)-Congress is strong.” Reminded about Paswan’s remarks, he said, “Paswanji keeps saying such things, just like that.”
RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said the RJD-JD(U)-Congress is a “natural alliance” and even if there are some differences on the “action component” of any issue, “[BJP chief] Amit Shah and Paswan should not be under any misconception that this alliance will break and an unnatural alliance will firm up.” Sources in both the NDA and the JD(U), in fact, say this is “a pressure tactic by Nitish” to keep RJD chief Lalu Prasad under pressure by creating an impression that he has an option to explore with the BJP. Differences between the JD(U) and the RJD have come to the fore since Bihar imposed prohibition and since the release of don-turned-politician Shahabuddin, who had attacked Nitish and praised Lalu.
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