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Dal focus on alliance after state chief re-election

Patna, Feb. 25: The ruling JD(U) today elected Bashishtha Narayan Singh unanimously as its state president for the second term at its council meeting.

The move, as of now, virtually suggested a “status quo” in its affairs as well as its ties with the BJP.

“Bashishthadada (as Singh is referred to in political circles) should strengthen all the cells of the party and train their cadres hard, making them ready for the 2014 elections,” said chief minister Nitish Kumar, making the focus of his party clear.

Bashishtha, on his part, said: “Nitish uses the word ‘secular’ in keeping with the Indian Constitution that is secular. The workers and cadres should desist from interpreting the chief minister’s use of secularism in their own way.”

Bashishtha’s intention was clear — the Dal, at least, at this stage does not wish to prolong the “controversy” that erupted after the party cadres of both the alliance partners (Dal and BJP) interpreted Nitish’s demand for a “secular” prime ministerial candidate as the latter’s opposition to the projection of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate.

At its recent organisational election, the BJP elected Mangal Pandey as its state party chief. Pandey, known for his proximity with deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, a staunch supporter of the JD(U)-BJP alliance, has tried his best to keep his cadres in check against speaking too much about Narendra Modi’s projections as the prime ministerial candidate.

The Dal’s focus to achieve its electoral goals without getting mired in the quarrel with its ally became clear when Nitish said: “The party was so far busy in the Kalyanpur by-election. The party cadres should focus now on the Dal’s Adhikar rally at the Ramlila ground in New Delhi on March 17.”

Obliquely referring to his archrivals, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Nitish said: “Our opponents’ barbs at us are based on white lies and falsehood. They are trying to falsify the big strides that the state had made on the development and law and order fronts. Their ploy will not work.”

Nitish claimed that the state had been running on the fast track to development.

“It (Bihar) will not derail from its right path despite the opponents systematically basing their propaganda on falsehood. People have closely observed what they did with the state when they were in power,” Nitish said, apparently reminding the RJD regime.

That the JD(U) is all set to re-elect Sharad Yadav as its national president became evident when it gave additional importance to energy minister Bijendra Yadav, a Sharad protégée.

The party authorised Bijendra to nominate the state working committee members. The party recently elected K.C. Tyagi, another of Sharad’s protégées, as the Rajya Sabha MP on the seat vacated by party rebel Upendra Kushwaha.

Bashishtha, on his part, pledged to strengthen the party to the “best of his capacity”.

“I am focused on three goals — ensuring the success of Adhikar rally at New Delhi on March 17, strengthening the organisation from the state- to the panchayat-level and implementing harit-kranti (planting trees) across the state.”

The state council also authorised Nitish to nominate the national council members from Bihar.

Almost all the senior party leaders, including the JD(U) ministers were present when the party electoral officer, Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, announced Bashishtha elected unopposed as the state party chief.