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Unity call on lips, cracks within

- RJD MLAs feel Lalu would not dictate terms for legislators

Patna, June 16: Nitish Kumar’s call for unity with the RJD for the Rajya Sabha bypoll would hardly have an impact on the ballots.

RJD MLA Raghvendra Pratap Singh today said most of the 21 MLAs of the party were in no mood to support the JDU. Even the RJD whip in the Assembly, Bhai Birendra, said while his party MLAs would abide by what Lalu Prasad decides, they were yet to forget the humiliation they had faced while extending unconditional support to the Jitan Ram Manjhi government at the Assembly. “The JDU leaders made insulting statements before the media, saying they had not asked the RJD for support,” Birendra said today.

The Rajya Sabha by-elections for the two seats would be held on Thursday.

The dissent shown by the RJD leaders can hardly cheer the JDU camp. “Laluji would not like to issue a whip on his MLAs to vote in favour of the JDU candidates as he knows that many of them may defy the whip and cross-vote. It will send a bad message to our supporters,” said a senior RJD leader. Lalu has called a meeting of his party MLAs tomorrow to take a final call on the Rajya Sabha polls.

In another development, the JDU, in a bid to weaken the move of party dissidents, has sought the disqualification of two dissident JDU MLAs — Renu Kushwaha and Annu Shukla. Renu’s husband Vijay Singh Kushwaha had contested from the Madhepura parliamentary seat on a BJP ticket and she is charged of campaigning actively for the party. Annu had contested as an Independent from Vaishali. Both Vijay and Annu lost the elections.

The JDU chief whip and parliamentary affairs minister, Srawan Kumar, wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary seeking their disqualification on the ground of anti-party activities. The Speaker’s secretariat sent notices (letter dated June 12) to the two MLAs asking them to be physically present before the Speaker on Tuesday and explain their stand on the issue. While Annu has been asked to appear at 11am, Renu was told to report at 11.30am. “Both the women MLAs will have to explain if they want to remain in the JDU or want to go out of it,” Srawan said.

A writ petition has been filed in the high court today seeking quashing of the letter sent to Renu. The case will be heard at 10.30am tomorrow.

However, JDU dissident MLA Gyanendra Kumar Gyanu called the step “illegal”. He said the two MLAs had not defied the party’s whip inside the Assembly, adding that the duo must be given 14 days to reply.

The JDU, on the public front, is putting up a brave face against all odds. “There is no rebellion in the party. It is a media creation,” said chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.


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