Bereft of a big party banner and unable to pull along Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,several erstwhile followers of George Fernandes have decided to join hands to prop up a new outfit. Consequently,they have resolved to meet at the Gandhi Peace Foundation here on June 14.
We would,hopefully,organise a massive convention here in August, sources close to them have disclosed. They said,Fernandes is afflicted with multiple health problems,but we have made up our mind to revive his legacy and work for the uplift of the poor and the working classes, indicating that their immediate battleground would be Bihar. Obviously,their common political enemy is Nitish,who has either fallen out with them or has given them the a cold shoulder.
Those who have backed the initiative include former Rajya Sabha member Upendra Kushwaha,former Lok Sabha members Arun Kumar and Brahmanand Mandal and former JD(U) general secretary Shambhu Sharan Shrivastav.
Of these,Kushwaha is the most important from the electoral viewpoint. A popular leader of the Koeri community,accounting for some eight per cent votes in Bihar,he became the Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Legislative Council in 2000. He quit the JD(U) four years ago due to differences with Nitish. The Bihar Chief Minister weaned him back to his side ahead of the last Assembly polls after he fell out with Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan,his close associate and Lok Sabha member. As Kushwaha backed Nitish in Assembly polls,the latter rewarded him with a Rajya Sabha berth in 2010. However,Kushwaha got disenchanted with Nitish soon and started criticising him for his dictatorial attitude. He finally gave up his Rajya Sabha seat as well as the JD(U) membership last December and floated his own party,Rashtriya Lok Samata Party,about three months ago.
Mandal is a former three-term member of the Lok Sabha from Munger constituency of Bihar. Belonging to the backward Dhanuka community,he retained the control of the Samata Party nomenclature after his party colleagues formed the JD(U).
Shrivastav,counted among those closest to Fernandes,quit the Bihar Legislative Council and the JD(U) after he developed differences with Nitish. He has since set up his own Lok Awaaz Dal.
The concerted activity of detractors of Nitish is naturally linked to the coming Lok Sabha polls. Their effort would be to undermine the prospects of JD(U) candidates,but steer clear of RJD leader Lalu Prasad.