Patna, June 11: The change in Lalu Prasad’s stand ahead of the Rajya Sabha by-elections has added a new dimension to the exercise amid the “war” between the JDU and BJP.
Initially, Lalu had announced that the RJD would issue no whip on its MLAs who would be free to exercise their “conscience” at the voting. But state party chief Ramchandra Purbey yesterday said Lalu has been authorised to take an “appropriate” stand, which the MLAs would have to abide by.
Sources close to Lalu described the “change” as the RJD chief’s efforts to “bail out” an embattled Nitish Kumar from the quagmire the latter has fallen in with several JDU legislators turning rebels and fielding Sabir Ali and Anil Sharma as their candidates against the official ones, Ghulam Rasool Baliabi and Pavan Varma, respectively. That the BJP is tacitly behind the dissidents is evident from the fact that its MLC Dilip Jaiswal — proposed by 10 BJP MLAs — too has thrown his hat in the ring.
What is learnt to have goaded Lalu to rescue his once friend turned arch-rival Nitish is the “realisation” that the BJP was working overtime to destabilise the Jitan Ram Manjhi government and force an early poll in Bihar where the “hawa (wave)” in the BJP’s favour has turned into a tornado with the Lok Sabha victory in 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats.
“Lalu — also a veteran strategist behind his light and non-serious exterior — has calculated that the only way to counter the BJP was to make the state’s politics bipolar,” a Lalu aide told The Telegraph, adding: “Such a realisation is there in the layer of the JDU’s strategists too.”
But both Lalu and Nitish were battling dissidents in their ranks, disallowing them the space to operate in a pro-active manner. That a “core” section in the JDU too was responsive to the idea of JDU-RJD unity came to the fore when the JDU boss, Sharad Yadav, publicly stated that he would “speak to Lalu” too as part of his efforts to bring the secular forces together soon after the Lok Sabha polls were out. Lalu, responding to the gesture had announced to support the Manji government to keep the “communal BJP at bay”.
“But a very naďve an inarticulate response from a section of the JDU on the RJD’s support pissed off Laluji”, said another aide of Lalu, adding: “Interpreting the RJD’s support to the Manjhi dispensation as part of Lalu’s mere greed to send his wife, Rabri Devi to Rajya Sabha hurt all of us.”
“We forced Laluji not to go ahead with his unilateral generosity,” said the aide, explaining: “Now, Lalu has changed his stand when neither Rabri Devi nor Misa are in the picture. Hopefully, Nitish, himself a visionary, will realise that Lalu was bigger than the greed to send his wards to the Rajya Sabha and respond to Lalu’s long-term strategy to execute a bipolar politics against the BJP in the state.”