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- Lalu withdraws support to govt as JDU fights fire within

Patna, June 5: Its brief honeymoon with the RJD over, the JDU today sought to stem the simmering rebellion in the party and clip the wings of dissidents by dissolving its state executive committee.

“The state executive of the party stands dissolved with immediate effect. We will reconstitute the committee within the next 10 days to follow up on the party’s strategies to face the new challenges,” state party chief Basishtha Narayan Singh announced at a news conference here.

Sources in the party said its leadership had dissolved the executive committee to achieve two broad goals — removing the dissidents from the committee and filling it with “more disciplined” faces in the cadre.

The decision coincided with the RJD’s decision to withdraw support to the Jitan Ram Manjhi government, ending a brief spell of truce between the warring parties, both of which were swept away by the Narendra Modi wave and are trying to claw their way back into the political mainstream.

“We had unconditionally supported the JDU government to keep the communal forces at bay. But an arrogant Nitish Kumar and his men have interpreted it as my greed to send either my wife Rabri Devi or daughter Misa Bharti to the Rajya Sabha,” RJD chief Lalu Prasad told his cadres while addressing a meeting at 10, Circular Road. Significantly, Misa, believed to be in favour of the JDU and RJD joining hands against the BJP, wasn’t present at the meeting.

The RJD’s withdrawal of support will not affect the stability of the Manjhi government because it still enjoys the support of the Congress and Independents.

Yesterday, the RJD received a blow with senior leader MAA Fatmi quitting the party. He is now believed to be in the running for a Rajya Sabha berth from the state.

In a way, the JDU’s decision to dissolve the executive committee is aimed at “downsizing” the stature of Nitish aide R.C.P. Singh. The IAS officer-turned-Rajya Sabha member has been in the eye of the storm ever since the electoral debacle. The dissolved committee had many members who were “handpicked” by RCP Singh, who was reportedly given a free hand to constitute it prior to the elections.

At the same time, the move will also work as an “embargo” on the disgruntled office-bearers who had been coming out with statements that embarrassed embattled party leader Nitish Kumar time and again. “Party spokesmen Niraj Kumar and Sanjay Singh resigned from their posts, expressing dissatisfaction over the style of functioning of the leadership. The disciplinary committee convener, Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, openly fired letters to the national and state party bosses demanding the sacking of four senior leaders (RCP, Lallan Singh, Lallan Saraf and Sanjay Gandhi),” said a senior JDU source. “Now the party neither has any spokesman nor any other office-bearer. So, no one can make a statement in the capacity of his position as the office-bearer.”

Even as the beleaguered leadership made an effort to crack the whip on the dissidents, Nitish was reportedly engaged in hectic parleys from behind the scenes to finalise the names of the candidates for the three Rajya Sabha seats that have fallen vacant in the wake of Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Kripal Yadav (both BJP) making it to the Lok Sabha.

Sources said Nitish held a meeting with his senior colleagues at 1 Aney Marg last night on the names of the nominees.

Grapevine has it that JDU president Sharad Yadav, who lost his Madhepura seat to the RJD’s Pappu Yadav, was in the running for one of the Rajya Sabha berths. The other names doing the rounds were those of Pawan Varma, former diplomat and now culture adviser to the Bihar chief minister, and former RJD leader Fatmi.

JDU state chief Basishtha Singh, however, refused to officially confirm any of the names for the Rajya Sabha. “We are yet to take a final decision,” he said. The JDU is set to bag all the three Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar.

As part of an interim arrangement in the run-up to the re-constitution of its executive committee, the JDU has nominated Ajay Alok, a party functionary and doctor by profession, as its spokesman for now.


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