| JD(U) president Sharad Yadav at Patna airport on Tuesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Patna, Sept. 24: JD(U) president Sharad Yadav today ruled out an alliance with the Congress citing “the party was now busy strengthening itself after breaking away from the NDA”.
“The party is busy putting in place the organisational apparatus at the ground level. It is in the process of holding organisational meetings at block and district levels that will culminate in the state-level meeting in October-end. In that meeting we would discuss the possible allies with our cadre,” Yadav told reporters here on his way to Madhepura. He represents the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat.
He also ruled out “political meanings” in chief minister Nitish Kumar and BJP patriarch L.K. Advani’s exchanging pleasantries at the National Integration Council (NIC) session in New Delhi yesterday.
While Sharad is busy dwelling on the larger issues related to the party’s future course of action, his trouble, apparently, lies beneath his feet.
More than anyone else, his party’s decision to dump the BJP in the state is likely to adversely affect Sharad’s electoral prospects in Madhepura — a Yadav bastion in north Bihar’s Kosi belt.
Yadav had won the seat in 2009 despite the numerically preponderant Yadavs voting in favour of Lalu Prasad’s RJD primarily because the upper caste Rajputs, Brahmins and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) rallying around him.
With the BJP set to enter the 2014 poll fray separately, the party might make heavy inroads into the upper caste votes. In the process, Sharad might be deprived of the Rajput and Brahmin voters — known for their preference for the BJP — in the region. The Yadavs had stood by Lalu Prasad’s RJD nominee Ravindra Charan Yadav in 2009.
“There is no reason for them (Yadavs) to shift their loyalty to Sharad in 2014,” Lalitesh Mishra, a professor at BN Mandal University, Madhepura, said.
Sharad will have to heavily depend on the EBCs, who are sizeable in number in Madhepura and the Muslims, who the JD(U) hopes to support it in 2014 for parting ways with the BJP over Narendra Modi’s projection as the prime ministerial candidate.
Political observers are, however, sceptical about the “overwhelming” support of the Muslims to the JD(U).
“It is hard to tell at this stage that the Muslims will desert Lalu Prasad to join the JD(U) bandwagon simply because it dumped its 17-year-old ally, the BJP. The Muslims, by and large, have been voting for the RJD in the region since early ’90s and there seems to be no plausible reason for them to desert Lalu, who has represented Madhepura twice in the Lok Sabha,” a political activist said.
A JD(U) MLA known for his closeness to Sharad said: “Sharadji did not want to break the alliance. But Nitish Kumar was determined to break it, compelling Sharadji to fall in line eventually.”