Having picked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as its president, the JD(U) will hold a one-day national council here Saturday to chalk out its plans to go big nationally, starting with Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, scheduled next year.
The meeting is expected to take forward the party’s proposed merger with Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal and Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, as also explore alliance options with smaller outfits such as Peace Party and a splinter group of Apna Dal in preparation for the UP polls.
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JD(U) state president Bashistha Narayan Singh said the council will outline the party’s objectives. Besides strengthening JD(U) base in Bihar and enforcing the prohibition, these include looking at ways to “expand in other states with the help of smaller parties, either in the form of merger, alliance or arrangement”, he said.
The UP polls is definitely going to be our (first) main task outside the state,” he said. “The party will treat liquor ban as a big national theme that has the backing of our good governance plank.”
Lucknow and Varanasi could be the first pit stops for Nitish. Pointing out that the JD(U) has got “several invitations” from women and social groups to speak on benefits of the prohibition programme, imposed recently in Bihar, JD(U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi told The Indian Express that Nitish will visit Lucknow on May 15. “We have (arranged for) a separate Ganga aarti for him,” he said, adding that the party has decided to create a workforce to talk about benefits of liquor ban in other states.
In fact, the council will zoom in on how best to make the liquor ban in Bihar a national theme for the party to cater to the key constituency of women, especially in UP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan. In Lucknow, a women’s group that was associated with former PM V P Singh will felicitate Nitish for the prohibition programme, “sending across a message of social revolution and women empowerment in other states”, party leaders said.
Besides former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, several JP Movement leaders from outside the state are expected to attend the council, which will endorse Nitish’s elevation as the party president. Nitish will also deliver the party presidential address.