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Nitish open to grand alliance
- Demolition of BJP prime goal of former chief minister

Patna, June 20: The “grand alliance” of arch-rivals Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad appears inevitable.

Nitish today declared that “every door was open” for him to challenge the BJP in Bihar, a day after the JDU managed to win two Rajya Sabha seats with the RJD’s support. “Till now, there have been no talks about an alliance (with the RJD). But in view of the political situation prevailing in the state, the option of a larger alliance is open. The BJP has thrown a challenge to me and it will not go unchallenged,” he said on Friday.

Nitish’s statement comes a day after Lalu Prasad declared that the support of the RJD to the JDU in the Rajya Sabha bypoll had sown the seed for an alliance of the two parties in future.

Virtually sending the JDU’s favourite metaphor “jungle raj” to describe the Lalu-Rabri regime under the carpet, Nitish said: “I had resolved to remove Lalu from the post of chief minister and prove that good governance was possible in Bihar. I allied with the BJP and accomplished my mission. Until the Samata Party was formed, the BJP did not dare to take their protest against Lalu to the streets. But we never veered from our basic principles. It was because of principles that we snapped the alliance with the BJP,” Nitish said, stressing that now his focus would be on demolishing the BJP in the state.

Nitish is angry with the BJP for playing “dirty politics” in the Rajya Sabha bypoll. “After the defeat in the Lok Sabha polls and resigning from the post of the chief minister, I was doing self-introspection. But the BJP’s dirty politics has dragged me out of my house again,” he said.

Nitish accused the BJP of trying to defeat the JDU candidates through horse-trading and destabilising the Jitan Ram Manjhi government. He virtually supported Lalu’s demand for a CBI probe into cross-voting by asking the government to conduct an inquiry into the matter and take appropriate steps.

Nitish said the state party chief, Bashishtha Narayan Singh, was looking into the issue of cross-voting by the party MLAs and would take appropriate steps. “But they (dissidents) are free to go anywhere they want. One can tie down a four-legged living being, not a two-legged one,” he said a day after Lalu’s RJD ensured the JDU candidates’ victory in the Rajya Sabha bypoll.

The warming up of bitter political rivals Nitish and Lalu emerges from the humiliating defeat both suffered at the hands of the NDA in the Lok Sabha polls. The NDA won 31 of the 40 seats. Lalu’s RJD and Nitish’s JDU were reduced to four and two seats, respectively. The RJD and the Congress combine bagged more than 28.5 per cent votes, while the JDU got 15.8 per cent against the NDA’s 38.8 per cent.

“Against this backdrop, there is no option for Nitish or Lalu but to come together if they want to avoid another drubbing by the NDA in the Assembly polls,” said a BJP leader, stressing that they were expecting this after the general election results.

There is still a long way to go for the JDU-RJD alliance to take a concrete shape. Some leaders of both the parties are against joining hands. The national vice-president of the RJD and former Union minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, has been sulking ever since the possibility of an alliance of his party with the JDU surfaced.

“We shall have to see if the mass base of the two parties are compatible or not. Ever since the RJD lost power in Bihar, Yadavs — an important component of the RJD’s votebank — consider Nitish as enemy number 1. Similarly, Nitish had built his support base on an anti-Lalu plank. BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav has already accused Lalu of betraying the Yadavs,” said an RJD leader.