Bringing its factional fight out in the open, the JD(U) on Saturday removed Sharad Yadav as its leader in the Rajya Sabha, replacing him with R C P Singh, a close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “R C P Singh has been elected leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha, replacing Sharadji,” confirmed Bihar JD(U) chief and Rajya Sabha member Bashishta Narayan Singh.
He said the decision has been communicated to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. A letter, signed by nine JD(U) MPs — seven from Rajya Sabha and two from Lok Sabha — has been handed to Naidu.
While the JD(U) has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha, including Yadav, two of them — Ali Anwar Ansari and M P Veerendra Kumar — have spoken out against Nitish.
Today’s development came a day after Nitish met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in the capital, and remarked that Yadav was “free to take a decision”. He made it clear that the JD(U) has already decided to align with the BJP.
Singh said the step had to be taken due to Yadav’s “recent actions”.
“Yadav’s removal as leader of the party in Rajya Sabha is just the beginning. If he continues what he is doing, he could face suspension from the party… The party will also write to the Rajya Sabha to invalidate his membership for anti-party activity,” said a party leader close to Nitish.
During his Jan Samvad programme in Bihar earlier this week, Yadav criticised Nitish for his decision to join hands with the BJP. He said that Nitish was heading the “sarkari JD(U)”, while the “JD(U) of workers” was with him.
Ramai Ram, the only senior party leader who went to receive Yadav when he landed in Patna, accused Nitish of “promoting his caste men and giving all posts in the party hierarchy to them.” He said Yadav’s removal was an “injustice”.
On Friday, the party suspended Rajya Sabha member Ansari from its parliamentary board for attending an Opposition meeting called by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
“After his decision to suspend me from the parliamentary board and replace Sharadji as leader of party in Rajya Sabha, people are asking whether Nitish came to meet the Prime Minister and BJP chief to seek their consent for taking action against us,” said Ansari,
“First, Nitish took the decision to go with the BJP without calling the national executive. Then they extended the date of the national executive from July 23 to August 19, and shifted the venue from New Delhi to Patna. We were ready to go there and put forth our views, but Nitish seems to be afraid of what we will say. Hence, he has taken this action to silence the voice of dissent,” he said.
“It’s not a question of individuals… The nation is in danger. We are ready to make any sacrifice… We will go to the people. We still have the mandate for the Grand Alliance. People are with us. Nitish’s party is now just a “sarkari” party,” he said.
On August 8, after JD(U) MLA in Gujarat Chhotubhai Vasava voted for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls, the party suspended its general secretary in-charge of Gujarat, Arun Srivastava. Srivastava had opposed Nitish’s decision to align with the BJP.
Both Ansari and Srivastava, along with Rajya Sabha member Veerendra Kumar, had attended a meeting at Yadav’s residence on July 27.
Party sources said if Yadav, who has been invited to attend the national executive meeting, continues to speak against Nitish, he could be suspended soon. And if he shares the dais at the RJD’s proposed “BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao” rally in Patna on August 27, the party could seek to terminate his Rajya Sabha membership.
Meanwhile, Amit Shah tweeted that he has invited JD(U) to join the NDA. JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said the party would pass a proposal at its August 19 meeting, and formally join the NDA at the national level. He said Nitish and Modi had a “very good talk” on Friday and “some kind of financial package for Bihar may be given after another meeting in the last week of August.”