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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bihar: Waiting for Lalu Fodder verdict,RJD sees a Nitish-Rahul link

We are an independent party and have the strength to go to polls,says Jagadanand Singh.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
September 28, 2013 3:21:08 am

The RJD,whose leader Lalu Prasad could be the first sitting MP to lose his seat if the government withdraws the ordinance to shield convicted lawmakers,reacted to Rahul Gandhi’s extraordinary intervention with bitterness,and warned the Congress that Nitish Kumar — the obvious beneficiary if the Congress-RJD understanding ends — was secular only “on the surface”.

The Bihar chief minister,on the other hand,declared that “what Rahul Gandhi has said is right”.

Senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui,who is believed to be close to Lalu,told The Indian Express: “I wonder if Rahul was unaware of the plications of this ordinance when the government readied it. His volte face only creates the bad impression that there is a gap between Rahul Gandhi and the government.”

Asked if Rahul seemed to be picking Nitish over Lalu,Siddiqui said: “It is up to the Congress to decide if it wants a truly secular leader or one who keeps dilly-dallying and is secular only on the surface. The RJD is clear in its mind over seeking an alliance partner.”

Siddiqui added that now that the Raghuram Rajan report had put Bihar in the “bottom two states”,Rahul should be aware of the “reality of (Nitish’s) Bihar growth model”.

Buxar MP Jagadanand Singh — one of the RJD’s four members in Lok Sabha — said Lalu had the strength to go alone if needed.

“We are an independent party and have the strength to go to polls. Rahul’s changed stand on the ordinance does not worry us. People have been after Laluji since 1996,but nothing has happened. Finally,everything is decided in the court of the people.”

The JD(U) was clearly gleeful. Nitish said,“What Rahul Gandhi said is right. I have always been of the view that nobody should get a back-door entry. The subject matter of the ordinance should’ve been debated in Parliament.”

JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP and national spokesperson K C Tyagi said the ordinance criticised by Rahul was actually the Congress’s “return gift” to the RJD for doing it a favour in Jharkhand.

“It became possible only with our efforts. We kept criticizing the Congress and called the ordinance a return gift to Laluji for helping the Congress and JMM to form the government in Jharkhand,” Tyagi said.

Minutes before Rahul crashed Ajay Maken’s press conference,Lalu,sitting in his Patna home,had declared that “no ordinance is brought for individuals”. He had also dismissed talk of the Congress’s growing closeness with Nitish,evidenced by Congress MLAs voting in favour of the JD(U) in the assembly after the NDA split,the Centre giving coal linkage to Barauni,and increasing Bihar’s quota of power.

But in the bungalow at 10 Circular Road,the shadow of a possible spell in prison for Lalu also loomed.

A security guard asked assembled reporters if there was a way Lalu could escape going to jail in the event of his being convicted in the upcoming fodder scam verdict. “We pray to God that Laluji is not convicted. He is our guardian. Everybody here is tense,” the man said.

Inside the house,Lalu sat in a cane chair in his trademark white vest and lungi,his legs up on a table. Former MLC Anwar Ahmad,stood nearby,taking calls on a mobile phone and in some cases,passing the handset to Lalu.

A call came from a man on Hajj,about to reach Mecca. An excited Ahmad handed the phone to Lalu. The RJD chief congratulated the person the other side and asked him to pray for him. “Ab aap Mecca pahunchnewale hain toh mere liye bhi dua keejiye.”

At times Lalu was irritable,especially when the electronic media was mentioned. “They are trying to vilify… Have I said anything on the ordinance? It is a fallout of the Supreme Court verdict,and make no mistake,no ordinance can be brought to benefit an individual,” he said.

The irritation increased when Nitish Kumar’s name came up in the context of the Rajan report. “Most people have not yet read the report. It has punctured Nitish’s claims. Bihar is among the least developed states. It means Nitish’s claims of good governance are humbug.”

The Congress was not getting any closer to Nitish,he said. “There is no such thing.”

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