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4 RJD leaders change colours

Patna, March 12: Seat conditions first, ideology can wait.

At least four senior leaders deserted Lalu Prasad’s RJD here today in hope for getting Lok Sabha tickets even as rebel party MP Ram Kripal Yadav joined the BJP and veteran Congress leader Mehboob Ali Qaiser switched camp to support Narendra Modi for Prime Minister.

Senior leader Shakuni Choudhary, whose son Samrat let the revolt against Lalu by splitting the party’s legislative wing, said at the JD(U) office today: “I served the RJD for 14 years and worked with honesty and dedication but did not get a Lok Sabha ticket. I was expecting Lalu would consult me before distributing the tickets this time.” Taking a cue from Ram Kripal, the 78-year-old leader also came down heavily on Lalu for promoting “dynasty politics” although he himself had gone from Nitish Kumar’s team to RJD 14 years ago with the condition that his son and wife to be made a minister and an MLA, respectively.

Shakuni added: “Shockingly, Lalu gave ticket to that person who took the signature of 13 MLAs and tried to break the party. He is none other than Abdul Bari Siddiqui. He (Siddiqui) is the person who sold himself for the Lok Sabha ticket. Siddiqui is like Mir Jafar who sold the country.”

RJD leader Abbu Kaiser, former RJD MLA Vijendra Choudhary, Ganesh Paswan and Amit Rana, son of former RJD MP R.K. Rana, convicted in the fodder scam, also joined the party in presence of JD(U) state chief Bashishtha Narayan Singh.

In another development, upset over not getting a Lok Sabha ticket, former state Congress president and second-generation Congress leader Qaiser took up the LJP membership. The LJP immediately announced his name as the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Khagaria.

Asked if he considers Modi as “secular”, Qaiser said: “Secularism is not an issue, as the only issue this election is development.” He also talked about Gujarat development under Modi but condemned the 2002 post-Godhra riots stating that it was a “sad incident but we have to move on”.

LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said: “Communalism is a political agenda and talking secularism, many leaders make groups leaving the development agenda behind.”

On why he snapped ties with the Congress, Qaiser, the Simri-Bakhtiarpur, Saharsa, zamindar family member, said: “I was suffocating in the party as there is no respect for sincere state leaders.”