The Janata Parivar merger may be on hold, but the JD(U) and RJD have agreed to jointly contest the Bihar assembly polls with Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate.
Announcing this on Monday, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is also the president-designate of the proposed Janata Parivar, said: “I am very happy about the unity of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. Nitish will be the chief ministerial candidate for Bihar. Laluji has proposed Nitish Kumar’s name for the chief ministership. Laluji said he will campaign.”
He was flanked by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and Lalu when he made the announcement, capping two days of prolonged talks.
“Under Mulayam’s leadership, Nitish has been named the chief ministerial candidate,” said Lalu. “I cannot contest. Nobody from my family or RJD family is interested in the chief ministership. We don’t want the saffron brigade to take advantage,” he added.
While he claimed that there are “no differences” between them, Lalu said: “I am ready to consume all kinds of poison… But we will crush this cobra of communalism. We will destroy them unitedly. We will wipe out the BJP from Bihar.”
Lalu said that he and Nitish “belong to the same family”. “We had our share of fights and differences and we also levelled allegations against each other. But, despite that, when the JD(U) was divided at the time of Rajya Sabha polls, I called up Nitish in order to stop the BJP. I supported him to check these forces,” said Lalu.
“The communal elements speak through the media. All kinds of rumours are being spread. They are saying we cannot come together. I thank Mulayam that he made the announcement that Nitish will be our chief ministerial candidate,” said Lalu.
Given their bitter past, the chief ministership was the key issue that the two sides had to address. This done, the distribution of seats, though a tricky exercise, may not be as difficult. “When hearts have met, we will sort out the issue of seats as well,” said Lalu.
On RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s remarks against Nitish in the past, Lalu said, “Anybody can give an opinion but the decision is taken here… I appeal to all leaders of my party from Bihar, like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagadanand Singh and Abdul Bari Siddiqui, to accept what Mulayam has said here.”
Sources said while the JD(U) and RJD have agreed to share the seats equally, the Congress and NCP were also likely to join the alliance. While Nitish met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday, Lalu has also held talks with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. There have been no talks with the Left parties yet.
However, the parties have agreed that there will be no alliance with the Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi. “We all agreed that he is playing the BJP game and we should leave him with the saffron party,” said a senior leader.
An upbeat Nitish, meanwhile, has called for a meeting on Tuesday of key party functionaries with Prashant Kishore, his election strategist, and his team at Patna to draw up a campaign-plan. Those invited to join the discussions are secretary-general K C Tyagi, Rajya Sabha member Pawan Verma and all state JD(U) spokespersons.