A late night meeting between the AICC in-charge for Bihar, Shaktisinh Gohil, and Jan Adhikar Party chief Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav triggered political ripples within the Congress party and its ally, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal Monday.
Yadav, who represents the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat, met Gohil at the Sadaqat Ashram, the state Congress headquarters, late Sunday night.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Gohil said it was a courtesy call by Yadav, whose wife Ranjeet Ranjan is a Congress MP from Supual in Bihar.
Talking to PTI over the phone from Khagaria Monday, Yadav said he discussed about attacks on non-Gujaratis, particularly those from Bihar in Gujarat, with Gohil who hails from that state.
The JAP chief said they also discussed about the prevailing political situation in Bihar.
“When two political personalities meet, it’s obvious that there will be talk on socio-political issues… We discussed about the prevailing political situation in Bihar,” Yadav said, adding “the talk was general in nature and not alliance specific…Lok Sabha election is still far away.”
Yadav, who has been criss-crossing Bihar to brace up JAP workers for the general election, attacked RJD as well JD(U), saying Bihar “needs to get rid of those who ruled state for 15 years (RJD) and 14 years (JD-U which is still continuing) by promoting politics of caste and communities”.
The meeting triggered speculations about the Congress toying with the idea of some sort of understanding with Yadav, who has had a troubled relationship with Lalu Prasad since the 1990s, for the Lok Sabha polls.
In the 2014 general elections, Prasad, who was then disqualified from contesting elections following conviction in a fodder scam case, had tried to bury the hatchet by giving a party ticket to Yadav, who had returned to electoral politics upon his acquittal in a case relating to the murder of CPI (M) leader Ajit Sarkar in Purnea district.
Yadav, who has a considerable following in the Kosi region, wrested Madhepura by a comfortable margin from Sharad Yadav, who was in the JD(U) then, and had represented the Lok Sabha seat a number of times.
Differences between the controversial politician and the RJD supremo, however, soon came to the fore and Yadav was suspended in 2015 for anti-party activities.
The Madhepura MP, thereafter, went on to form his own outfit, Jan Adhikar Party, which has kept political pundits guessing by virtue of its ambivalence towards the ruling NDA as well as opposition groupings.
Yadav’s meeting with Gohil, however, drew angry reaction from the RJD.
Its MLA and spokesman Bhai Virendra said the Mahagathbandhan comprises the RJD, the Congress and the Hindustani Awam Morcha. Any Decision with regard to inclusion of any new constituent cannot be taken by the Congress alone, he said.
The RJD MLA’s reaction appeared to be in sync with the view expressed by party heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, who had recently said that while efforts were on to rope in NDA constituents like the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party headed by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, there was no place for Pappu Yadav in the Grand Alliance.
The Hindustani Awam Morcha, headed by former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, also came out in support of the RJD’s stand with its spokesman Danish Rizwan saying in a statement that people like Pappu Yadav, who have been opposing Tejashwi, can have no place in the Mahagathbandhan.
The development also appears to have baffled the state unit of the Congress as one of its senior leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, wondered why Gohil met Yadav without presence of any other prominent BPCC leader.
The Congress leader also expressed the view that “any move that affects our alliance with the RJD could harm our prospects in the next Lok Sabha polls. It could lead to a division in Muslim votes between RJD and Congress which would only benefit the BJP-led alliance”.
“The cost of any possible alliance with Yadav far outweighs the benefits. Unlike Kushwaha, Yadav is a highly controversial figure and has a volatile temperament. Moreover, in the event of our ties with the RJD getting severed, we will need to take some other major outfit on board,” the Congress leader said.
“Some people think that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) may not be averse to joining hands with the Congress if we part ways with the RJD. But we wonder if it is possible at all since his government is dependent on the BJPs support for its survival,” the Congress leader added.
Though there was no reaction from the BJP its NDA ally JD(U) mocked at the Congress of thinking of its political revival in Bihar with the help of a “history-sheeter”.
JD(U) leader and MLC Neeraj Kumar pointed towards the long history-sheet of Pappu Yadav and remarked sarcastically, “If the Congress wants to revive itself in Bihar with the help of such elements, we can only wish it good luck.”