Lalu keeps them guessing: RJD chief silent on Bihar strategy after Nitish's resignation
Keeping his cards close to his chest: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad kept his cards close to his chest, as the high-voltage drama triggered by the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday continued to keep the state on the edge on Sunday.
Speculation is rife in political circles that Lalu would offer conditional support to the JD(U) government “for the sake of uniting secular forces” against a resurgent BJP.
Remarks made by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav on Saturday regarding a possible realignment of political equations in the state to keep the “communal” BJP at bay had lent credence to the belief that Lalu and Nitish, otherwise bitterly opposed to each other for the past two decades, would bury the hatchet to stem the saffron surge.
said that Lalu and Yadav had spoken over the phone three times on Saturday
night to discuss the possibility of the two forming a coalition
government in the state.
Rumour has it that Lalu had placed a condition that he would support
the new government only if Nitish was replaced with a Yadav leader and
senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui made the deputy chief minister.
He is also said to have demanded a Cabinet berth for his daughter Misa Bharti and a possible Rajya Sabha seat for his wife Rabri Devi in the future.
But Lalu scotched all such speculation and termed them a “figment of someone’s imagination”.
have had no talk either with Sharad Yadav, Nitish Kumar or anybody else
in the JD(U),” he said, adding that his party will hold a meeting on
Monday to discuss the issue.
Three RJD MLAs, (from left) Javed Iqbal, Ram Lakhan Ram Raman and Samrat Choudhary, resigned from the Assembly on Sunday in Nitish's support
The NDA’s phenomenal success in the Lok Sabha polls has left both Lalu and Nitish in the same boat as their parties faced a rout in Bihar.
But Lalu may well be instrumental in providing stability to the JD(U) government if he decides to support the new government.
This is despite the fact that Lalu received a jolt when three of his rebel party MLAs — Samrat Choudhary, Javed Iqbal Ansari and Ram Lakhan Ram Raman — resigned on Sunday to express solidarity with Nitish.
All these MLAs had campaigned extensively for the JD(U) during the recent general elections.
“When Nitish Kumar could quit a big post like that of CM, can’t we make a small sacrifice and resign from the Assembly?” Choudhary said.
The three MLAs were also part of a rebel group that had revolted against Lalu in February this year.
Political observers believe that Lalu might also back the JD(U) government to delay the Assembly polls because he fears the NDA achieving a landslide victory.
He would not like to go to Assembly polls in the near future in view of his party’s dismal performance in the LS polls.
But his next move hinges on the final decision taken by JD(U) legislature party regarding its leader on Monday.
Lalu will not lay his cards on the table until he knows for sure that Nitish will not take up the chief minister’s post again.
Sushil wants 'horse-trader' JD(U) to prove its strength
The JD(U)’s former coalition partner BJP kept up its attack on the Sharad Yadav-led party on Sunday even as the latter tried to resolve the crisis created by Nitish Kumar’s resignation.
BJP leader and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi rejected the JD(U)’s claims that the party stood united, saying “several leaders” of the JD(U) Legislature Party had skipped its scheduled meeting on Sunday.
He added that the JD(U) lacked a majority in the Assembly, saying the BJP wanted the party to prove its strength on the floor of the House before another leader was appointed to take over as chief minister.
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi leads a delegation of party MLAs to Raj Bhavan on Sunday
“We have submitted a memorandum to Governor D.Y. Patil... The JD(U) does not have a majority in the House and we have sought a parade of JD(U) legislators before the chief of the JD(U) Legislature Party is invited to form the government,” he said while exiting the Raj Bhavan.
“All the allies of the government should give their letters of support as well,” he added.
Accusing Nitish of not expanding his ministry for fear of triggering a rebellion by his MLAs, Modi said his resignation had created political instability in the state.
He also alleged that the party was involved in horse trading.
“The JD(U), which has been running a minority government, resorted to horse trading to save its government,” he added.
“MLAs are being offered ministerial berths and other inducements,” he said.
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