Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, upset with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to snap ties with the opposition grand alliance and form a government with the BJP, is set to voice his dissent in a day or two. Yadav’s anger could have a bearing on the JD(U)’s position in Rajya Sabha, where the party has 10 members, led by Yadav. Two of these members, Ali Anwar Ansari and M P Veerendra Kumar, have already hit out at Nitish. Sources said that Yadav, who was replaced by Nitish as JD(U) president last October, is “totally against” the decision to align with the BJP. Nitish had resigned as chief minister on July 26, and taken oath with the BJP as ally the following morning. He won a trust vote in the Bihar assembly on July 29.
Yadav is yet to publicly speak on the developments in Bihar. But he has been meeting many opposition leaders, as well as JD(U) leaders from states like Kerala, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He is learnt to have conveyed to these leaders that he is “deeply pained” at Nitish’s decision at a time when Opposition unity was needed the most.
Among those who met Yadav at his residence on Sunday were CPI leader D Raja and RLD chief Ajit Singh. Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had met him on Friday. NCP’s Tariq Anwar too has met Yadav.
Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is also a relative of RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s, spoke to Yadav after Lalu appealed to him to join the battle against the BJP, referring to him as “our leader Sharad Yadav”. Mulayam’s son and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav too spoke to Yadav by phone. SP Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agrawal is expected to meet Yadav soon.
Hira Singh Markam of Gondwana Ganatantra Party from Madhya Pradesh also called on Yadav. Seven-time JD(U) MLA from Gujarat, Chhotu Bhai Vasava, too, has backed Yadav against Nitish.
Yadav has not been swayed by efforts at mollification from senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and the BJP’s Bihar in-charge Bhupender Yadav. The BJP is learnt to be willing to offer a cabinet berth to Yadav. Some BJP leaders were in touch with Yadav on Sunday, too.
Bihar is the only state in which the JD(U) has a substantial presence. It has a minor presence in states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and UP. The entire lot of JD(U) MLAs in Bihar voted for Nitish in the trust vote. Nitish has spoken to Yadav after July 26, but has failed to break the ice.
Meanwhile, JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said that the party national executive in Patna next month would provide a chance to all leaders to express their views. “Sharadji is the founder president of JD(U). He is the most senior leader of the party. He has been invited with utmost respect to attend the event,” Tyagi told The Indian Express.
Another leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “Sharadji will attend the national executive meeting on August 19 and express his reservations.”
Sources close to Nitish Kumar said Yadav was unlikely to do “something that damages the party, such as breaking the party”, and expressed the hope that he would come around. Another source said party representatives from 20 states would write a letter addressed to both Yadav and Nitish. There is a view in a section of the party that Nitish took a “hurried” decision unlike in 2013, when he had walked out of the NDA only after detailed deliberations.
On Sunday, Yadav targeted the government on Twitter. “Neither black money slashed abroad returned, one of [the] main slogans of [the] ruling party nor anyone caught out of those named in Panama papers,” he said. Earlier, on June 29, he had tweeted: “Although Govt collects number of cesses in [the] name of different services from public, yet don’t see any improvement in any area in [the] country”
On July 28: “Ultimately our PSUs are used for any social cause like Govt plans to rescue stranded assets in power sector but PSUs disinvested heartlessly.” On July 27, Yadav had hit out at the central government’s crop insurance scheme. “Amongst others Fasal Bima Yojana is another unsuccessful scheme of [the] Govt through which only private insurance companies being benefitted. Fasal Bima Yojana is big failure as farmers are not aware about insurers but premium deducted from their loans, benefit goes to only insurers,” he said in two tweets.