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Dal unease at overtures to RJD

- BJP calls possible Nitish, Lalu ties ‘Jungle Raj II’

Patna, July 21: Former chief minister Nitish Kumar is going for what the BJP calls “Jungle Raj II” — a grand alliance of the JDU, RJD and Congress for the bypolls to 10 Assembly seats in August.

“The more anti-BJP parties that unite the better,” he remarked before journalists on Monday while calling the BJP’s use of the term “Jungle Raj II” to describe the alliance as low-level politics. He said state party chief Basistha Narayan Singh has been authorised to negotiate the deal.

Singh said the party was awaiting a formal response from the RJD and was sure to get a positive one in a few days. “I am going to Delhi today,” he remarked without stating that he would meet RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is presently in the national capital. The JDU state unit chief hinted that his party was flexible towards number of seats to be given to the RJD. Sources indicated the JDU was willing to give five to six seats to the RJD.

But Nitish’s “grand alliance” plan is causing discomfort among his MLAs. It was apparent when JDU MLAs were debating the home department’s budgetary demands in the Assembly. Previously, they would often hark on “the dark days of Lalu-Rabri regime” or “Jungle Raj” in their speeches. On Monday, they were careful not to utter those words. They instead referred to communal violence in Gujarat and crime in Madhya Pradesh — BJP-ruled states. “The situation is going to be more embarrassing in our Assembly segments. We have projected Lalu Prasad as a demon responsible for all the ills of Bihar. Now, we have to say good things about him in public. I think I will start off with Lalu’s contribution to Bihar as railway minister and declare that he is a changed man,” mocked a JDU MLA.

Dissidents in the party have made no attempt to hide their disappointment. “It is a historic blunder. The party leadership is flaunting an alliance with a man party workers had struggled to get rid off. This is like showing disrespect to the mandate the party got in 2010. Instead, the party should have built up the party and fought the elections alone,” remarked dissident MLA Gyanendra Singh Gyanu.

A large number of JDU MLAs are feeling uneasy about losing their seats if the alliance comes into existence. “Most JDU MLAs have won after defeating their RJD rivals. There are many seats where the RJD has a former MLA who has represented the seat thrice or twice before he lost it to the JDU. The RJD is likely to stake claim to these seats. For example, Jehanabad has a sitting JDU MLA. But previously it was represented by RJD MLAs thrice,” said a senior party leader.

There have been rumblings in the RJD too. Party MLA Raghvendra Pratap Singh openly opposed the alliance. “But I will follow the dictates of the leadership,” he said. The party’s leader in the Assembly, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, said the RJD had announced unconditional support to the Jitan Ram Manjhi government to strengthen the JDU against the BJP. “Anyone opposing the alliance is free to leave,” he said stressing that Lalu and the JDU leadership would thrash out finer details of the alliance. “These are just teething problems. Everything will be set in order,” said a Nitish supporter.

The BJP announced it would ally with the LJP and RLSP for bypolls. “The Jungle Raj-II alliance will not get votes from any section of society,” BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.


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