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Dal, BJP race for best Lalu opponent

Patna, April 13: Estranged allies the JD(U) and the BJP are locked in a pitched battle to hijack their common issue in happier days — the return of the jungle raj (lawlessness) — ahead of the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday cautioned people about the possibility of jungle raj (Lalu-Rabri era) returning to Bihar while campaigning in Pataliputra and Patna Sahib. A day on, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi claimed that only the BJP could stop Lalu from returning to power, not Nitish.

The Assembly polls due next year appear to have prompted the one-upmanship of the BJP and the JD(U) over stopping Lalu from returning to power. The erstwhile JD(U)-BJP combine had successfully cashed in on the fear of “return of the Lalu-Rabri raj” in the 2010 Assembly polls after Lalu announced himself as the chief minister candidate for the RJD-LJP alliance. The campaign of the former allies paid rich dividends and the RJD leaders later conceded that announcing Lalu’s name was a mistake.

The estranged allies appear to be keen on drumming up the issue again ahead of the next Assembly polls — likely to be a triangular contest identical to the general election. Nitish played the jungle raj card first.

“Lalu Prasad went to the house of a jailed history sheeter to get his support and help the RJD’s Pataliputra candidate win. If you slip at this moment, things will return to its previous state,” Nitish yesterday warned people, apparently referring to Lalu wooing jailed history sheeter Reet Lal Yadav.

Within 24 hours, the BJP questioned Nitish’s ability to stop the return of the “jungle raj”. Modi, the party’s senior leader, claimed that the BJP actually fought with the Lalu-Rabri regime. “I was attacked inside the Assembly while the BJP workers were lathicharged outside because of our strong opposition,” he said.

Modi alleged that Nitish wanted to take credit for the removal of Lalu when he actually shirked responsibility. “When Nitish became the chief minister for the first time in 2000, he had promised to remain in Bihar and fight it out with the RJD. But, after his government fell, he returned to Delhi and became a Union minister,” Modi said.


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