Patna, Oct. 16: Dissident Janata Dal (United) MP Mangani Lal Mandal today announced he would not contest the next Lok Sabha elections on a ticket from the party, his decision the latest in the round of off-season political migration that has taken parties by surprise.
“I will not contest the next Lok Sabha polls on a JD(U) ticket. I will be surprised if Nitish Kumar wins more than three seats in the 2014 elections,” said Mandal, the MP from Jhanjharpur in Madhubani district.
Though he was silent about his next move, Mandal indicated he was ready to cross over to the RJD, whose chief Lalu Prasad is in jail in a fodder scam case.
“It is Lalu Prasad who remains a mass leader in Bihar and not Nitish. To defeat the NaMo (Narendra Modi) wave, Lalu Prasad needs to be strengthened,” Mandal said.
Mandal has changed sides between Nitish and Lalu more than four times in the last decade. “I opposed the fielding of former CM Jagannath Mishra by the JD(U) and joined the RJD and was given a Rajya Sabha seat. During the last Lok Sabha polls, the JD(U) called me and offered me a ticket from Jhanjharpur. I am snapping ties with the JD(U) this time because of the dictatorship of Nitish Kumar,” he said.
If Mandal is veering towards the RJD, so is another dissident JD(U) MP Puranmasi Ram. Adding to the list is JD(U)’s Jai Narain Nishad, who has a unique track record of never contesting two consecutive Lok Sabha polls on the same political tag. He has been an MP for the RJD, BJP and JD(U) and openly jokes that he changes political tags to overcome “monotony”.
But what has surprised political observers is the sudden migratory activity when elections are still some time away. “Usually politicians hop from one party to another just before the Lok Sabha polls are announced,” said a senior BJP leader.
Sources attributed this early migration to the split in the NDA alliance. The BJP, they pointed out, has to search for 25 suitable candidates for the 2014 polls while its former ally JD(U) has to hunt for 15 more nominees.
The BJP has been the biggest beneficiary of this migration with the new entrants reposing faith in Narendra Modi. JD(U)’s Nishad, former minister Desai Choudhary and JD(U) MLA Chhedi Paswan have all made their intentions clear that they will be with the BJP in 2014.
“We are on the lookout for candidates for the Lok Sabha. But the joining of these leaders has nothing to do with Lok Sabha candidates. That will be decided by the party’s parliamentary board,” “said senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
The urge to contest the elections is catching up in the JD(U) also. Land revenue minister Ramai Ram, who contested the last parliamentary polls from Gopalganj on a Congress ticket, declared that he was a candidate for the Hajipur seat. “It’s for Nitish Kumar to ensure that I get a ticket.”
The BJP has already picked BSP leader Janak Ram as its candidate from Gopalganj. Former Union minister Desai Choudhary contested the last Lok Sabha polls from Hajipur on a Congress ticket. He has joined the BJP and is likely to be fielded from the same seat.