In a clear indication of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar coming together to forge a “wider secular front”, RJD Thursday decided to lend outside support to Jitan Ram Manjhi-led JD(U) government in Bihar during floor test on Friday. Speculation is rife about RJD joining the government after some time and bargaining for a deputy CM and at least two minister posts, including one for Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti.
In Delhi, RJD chief Lalu said: “We have decided to support Manjhi government from outside. Our support is unconditional. We will continue to monitor government functioning and decide on our next course of acton.”
RJD appears to be looking at new equations in the state ahead of the 2015 Assembly elections based on sound electoral arithmetic.
RJD sources said there had been a growing feeling within the party about the need for “Lalu and Nitish melting their egos and coming together as a wider secular front to counter emergence of BJP under Narendra Modi”. The only hitch is opposition of JD(U) upper caste leaders, who might feel marginalised if the two leaders join hands. RJD and JD(U) polled about 46 per cent against NDA’s 39 per cent.
Sources indicated that RJD is keen on sending Rabri Devi to Rajya Sabha with help from JD(U), which is the single largest party in Bihar Assembly. Three Rajya Sabha seats are to be vacated by Ram Vilas Paswan, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Kripal Yadav. As there would be separate polls for these three seats, JD(U) would get all three because of being the leading party in the Assembly. Sharad Yadav is most likely to be nominated for Rajya Sabha. There has also been speculation of Nitish going to Rajya Sabha.
Earlier in the day, Lalu met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to discuss strategy of the coalition of the two parties. After the meeting, Lalu told reporters, “This is a storm. It will not last long. We will fight communalism tooth and nail. We have given unconditional support to the JD(U) government in Bihar to foil BJP’s design to capture power in the state.”
Talking to The Indian Express, RJD spokesman Manoj Jha said, “While our support to the Bihar government is based only on the need to stop the BJP from taking advantage of the situation, a move like this opens up many possibilities.”
Meanwhile, the new Chief Minister, Manjhi, has submitted the list of 120 MLAs’ support in present House, which currently has a strength of 239. With four Congress MLAs’ support, the Manjhi government has additional numbers. With RJD extending support with its 21 MLAs, the government would face no threat from BJP that has 89 MLAs.
BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi said: “In the face of defeat for both Nitish and Lalu, such alliance was expected. But it is nothing but opportunism.”