JD(U) leader and former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has reached out to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, appealing him to vote for two JD(U) Rajya Sabha candidates — Pawan Verma and Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi — to “frustrate designs of conceited BJP to destabilise” the Jeetan Ram Manjhi-led government. He said the need of the hour was to “fight BJP together”. Kumar talked to Prasad on the phone Friday.
Talking to reporters Saturday for the first time after resigning as CM, the JD(U) leader also appealed to the Congress and the CPI to vote for the JD(U) candidates. The JD(U) that has 117 MLAs in the truncated House of 232 (full strength 243) is faced with internal rebellion with over a dozen party MLAs openly supporting Independents — Anil Sharma and Sabir Ali — who also might get support of the BJP which has 84 MLAs.
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Though the RJD chief has not yet reacted to Kumar’s appeal, RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said: “Our national president will take a call on this at an opportune time.” Sources said the RJD might decide to vote for the JD(U) candidates to “seal” an alliance with it.
Kumar has reached out to the RJD chief not just to “ensure” party candidates’ win but also to escape the “embarrassment” of some dissidents voting against own party members. “If the RJD’s 21 MLAs vote for the JD(U) candidates and continue to support the Manjhi government, the BJP, now drunk with power at the Centre, would not be able to have its way,” Kumar said even as he ducked questions about the possibility of the two parties coming together for the 2015 Assembly polls.
Asked if it is about the two parties being on the same side of the political divide now against the emergence of the BJP, Nitish said: “We can have a debate on this later. We will talk of crossing the bridge when we will approach the river.”
He, however, refused to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “instigating Bihar BJP leaders” to trouble the JD(U). The former CM said: “Attacking any individual is not my kind of politics”. He, however, accused the state BJP of provoking the JD(U) dissidents to support two Independents. “You know it all how it was planned at a senior BJP leader’s residence,” Kumar said without naming the BJP leader.
Kumar said victories and defeats are part of electoral life but the way the BJP has been behaving has some “ominous signs”. “The Opposition must not be derided. We had given the RJD Opposition leader post when it had not got requisite 10 per cent seats in the Assembly after the 2010 polls. Similarly, the NDA should give Leader of Opposition post to the Congress,” he said.
Asked how Prasad could support the JD(U) when it had caused split in the RJD and recently made three of its leaders ministers, Nitish said: “This is a different condition. Laluji has to decide if he could allow the BJP to have its way and come together with us to defeat its game plan.”
JD(U) sources said a major section of the party had impressed upon Kumar that the party should seriously think of joining hands with the RJD in a bid to stop the BJP, more so with Central ministers already starting doling out schemes for Bihar.
A JD(U) MP said, “It is only upper caste leaders who are against tying up with the RJD because they will lose their relevance. But a large section believes Lalu and Nitish together would become a formidable combination with the Congress in tow.”
Not interested in destabilising Manjhi govt, says Sushil Kumar Modi
The BJP Saturday rubbished Nitish Kumar’s claim that it was trying to destabilise the JD(U) government in Bihar and hit back at him for ‘begging’ before Lalu Prasad to ensure his candidates’ victory in Rajya Sabha bypolls.
“BJP has no interest to destabilise Jeetan Ram Manjhi government which is being remote controlled by Nitish Kumar,” BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said. “He (Kumar) himself set his house on fire and now is blaming us (BJP),” he said, reacting to Kumar’s accusations of BJP engineering defection in the JD(U). PTI