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Leniency hope for rebel regret

The JDU is hoping that 10 of its 18 MLAs who rebelled against the official Rajya Sabha candidates would regret their decision, allowing the party to drop disqualification proceedings against them.

Eighteen JDU members went against the party’s diktat in the Rajya Sabha bypolls and fielded candidates against Pavan Kumar Varma and Ghulam Rasool Baliabi.

A JDU leader said: “There are three kinds of dissidents. The first lot has MLAs who proposed the names of other candidates in the polls and worked as polling agents. The second group of four is those who signed the proposal forms of the rival candidates and campaigned for them. But the remaining 10, we hope, would regret their action. So, the party will take a lenient view.”

The MLAs the party want disqualified for proposing rival nominees are Gyanendra Kumar Gyanu, Ravindra Rai, Rahul Sharma and Neeraj Kumar Bablu. Also, Raju Kumar Singh, Ajit Kumar, Poonam Devi and Sanjay Chanchal (who signed the proposal forms). Sources said three of the remaining 10 MLAs have surrendered.

A leader said: “The party is likely to take a lenient view of MLAs Annu Shukla and Renu Kushwaha who have already tendered their apology after receiving notices. The JDU has 116 MLAs in the Assembly. With disqualification of eight, its strength would reduce to 108. The majority mark would be 113 but with the support of the RJD, the Congress and others, the Jitan Ram Manjhi government would survive.”

Rebellion in the party is meanwhile not limited to these dissidents. Islampur MLA Rajiv Ranjan, who has been aggressively campaigning against alliance with the RJD, addressed four public meetings on Thursday to speak against the proposed alliance.

“In 1994, Nitish Kumar declared that he would rather prefer to die than join hands with Lalu Prasad. Today, he is using the same words but against the BJP,” he said.