The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Rebels first, ballot battle later

Patna, June 7: The ruling JDU was on the back foot ahead of the last date of filing nominations for the three Rajya Sabha seats on June 9 with the party’s rebel MLAs gearing up to field their own candidates against the official nominees.

Highly placed sources revealed that the party leadership spearheaded by embattled former chief minister Nitish Kumar was able to decide only on the candidature of the party’s national president Sharad Yadav. It happened because the dissidents also had no apparent objection to Sharad’s name.

“Sharad’s name has been cleared,” the party’s national spokesman, K.C. Tyagi, said, adding: “There are many other names in consideration. The party will take a final decision tomorrow.”

Sharad arrived here from New Delhi late this evening and got huddled with Nitish and state party chief Bashishtha Naryan Singh.

The JDU leadership was apparently wary of deciding on the name of the rest of the two candidates as the dissidents are determined to field their candidate/s. The sources said the ousted JDU leader, Sabir Ali, had “downloaded” the nomination form from the Rajya Sabha’s website and was in the process of soliciting support from the JDU rebels as well as the BJP.

Rajya Sabha members are elected on the basis of a simple formula. One has to secure the vote of total number of seats in the Assembly divided by the number of vacancies plus one.

Given the strength (117 seats) of the JDU, the ruling establishment is technically in a position to bag all the three Rajya Sabha seats.

The seats fell vacant in the wake of Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), Ram Kripal Yadav and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (both BJP) making it to the Lok Sabha.

Party MLC Neeraj Kumar, who stood deposed as its spokesman in the wake of the dissolution of its state’s executive and who too is counted among the group of dissidents, said: “The party should not field its candidates, which were held by the Opposition BJP and LJP.”

However, state JDU chief Bashishtha sounded cautious: “Neeraj’s suggestion is under the consideration of the party leadership. We will sit and decide tomorrow.”