JD(U) president Sharad Yadav was Thursday elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha, but the two other party candidates — Pawan Verma and Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi — are still waiting for RJD’s decision on either supporting them or abstaining from voting. The BJP is likely to support the two Independent candidates who are backed by JD(U) rebels in a bid to corner former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Yadav had walkover as JD(U) dissidents did not put up any Independent candidate against him, but over a dozen party rebels led by Barh MLA Gyanendra Kumar Singh have been openly supporting Independent Sabir Ali against JD(U) official nominee and party national general secretary Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi. The only reprieve came for CM’s cultural adviser and former diplomat Verma with Independent candidate Dilip Jaiswal (though a BJP leader) opting out of the race to the Upper House. Verma, however, still faces his party rebel Anil Sharma, who lost Jehanabad Lok Sabha election to Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader Arun Kumar.
JD(U) chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh claimed that the party has succeeded in winning over five dissidents and now Verma and Baliyawi should get through. He added that RJD’s stand was crucial. If RJD’s 21 MLAs abstain from voting, the effective Assembly strength would come down to 211 and it would mean that a JD(U) candidate would make it with 107 votes (51 per cent).
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RJD sources said there was a minimal chance of RJD voting with arch rival BJP against JD(U) nominees. “RJD can either vote for JD(U) candidates, which looks unlikely with bitterness between Lalu Prasad and Kumar over the latter not responding to alliance vibes of Prasad post Lok Sabha polls. Abstaining looks like a safer political option. But Lalu Prasad alone can take final call on this,” said an RJD leader.
Meanwhile, the BJP views the rebellion in the JD(U) as a godsend opportunity to corner Kumar who decided to resign as the Bihar Chief Minister in a bid to quell the rebellion within JD(U) after the Lok Sabha poll defeat. BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the party had been closely watching JD(U) dissidents’ moves. He, however, remained non-committal on whether BJP would support Independents, one of whom is Sabir Ali, expelled by the saffron party within 24 hours of his induction before the Lok Sabha polls.
BJP sources sought to suggest that the very fact that JD(U)’s rebel MLAs did not support any potential candidate against Yadav and have chosen instead to support Independent candidate against Kumar’s handpicked nominees indicate power struggle between the two top JD(U) leaders.