Patna, June 23: The JD(U) today issued a gag order on its spokespersons in a bid to douse the controversy within the NDA over chief minister Nitish Kumar’s jabs at his Gujarat counterpart and his party’s decision to support UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee as the next President.
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav asked the party spokespersons to maintain “restraint” while speaking on BJP in New Delhi. During a marathon four-hour meeting with the JD(U) leaders, including state party chief Basistha Narayan Singh and chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh, Nitish counselled them to stay away from launching any individual attack on leaders belonging to the alliance partner (BJP).
Singh told The Telegraph: “He (Nitish) suggested the party cadres not to indulge in controversial statements.”
The state party chief was, however, reluctant to divulge what transpired in the “marathon” meeting. He said the chief minister deliberated more on Bihar’s demand for the special category status, tree plantation and other measures taken up by the government for the state’s development.
JD(U) national general secretary Shivanand Tiwary’s statement that “had Ravi Shankar (BJP national spokesperson) been the finance minister, the financial situation would not have been any better” seems to have put the party on the back foot. His statement suggested that the JD(U) was in favour of the UPA’s economic policies.
The JD(U) insiders said both Sharad and Nitish had all along been critical of the UPA government for the “financial mess and inflation”. Nitish was believed to have told his cadres that supporting the UPA’s nominee against the BJP-sponsored P.A. Sangma should in no way be “interpreted” as the manifestation of any split within the NDA and extension of support to the Congress at this juncture.
While the JD(U) was in truce mood, BJP leader and animal and fish resources minister Giriraj Singh today approached the RSS state headquarters seeking support in his campaign to “keep the prestige of the RSS and the BJP high”.