RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who called emergency meeting of 21 party MLAs Tuesday, remained undecided on supporting two JD(U) candidates in the Rajya Sabha bypolls, due on June 19. According to the party’s official line, the MLAs authorised Lalu to take the final call on former CM Nitish Kumar’s request to support JD(U) candidates Pawan Verma and Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi against Independent challengers Anil Sharma and Sabir Ali respectively. RJD MLAs would hold another meeting Wednesday.
The JD(U) top brass, which also called meeting of 117 MLAs, continued to face defiance from over a dozen dissidents who skipped Tuesday’s gathering. Some who skipped the meeting claimed even those who attended were on their side and had gone there to know about Nitish’s strategy. The JD(U) needs support from the RJD MLAs to avoid embarrassment in the bypolls.
A senior RJD leader said the party MLAs were divided over supporting Nitish who, they feel, “recently engineered a split in the party and made three RJD rebels ministers”. Some MLAs reportedly told the RJD chief that when Nitish had not missed any opportunity to destabilise their party, Lalu “should not be emotionally blackmailed just for the sake of opposing the BJP”.
However, others in the RJD camp suggested Lalu respond to Nitish’s overtures to serve “larger political interest”.
At Tri Nagar, Smriti Irani centered her speech around Modi, with over 10 references in 11-minute extempore.