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JDU suspends MLA for six years

Patna, Aug. 22: The JDU cracked down on dissident MLA Rajiv Ranjan, suspending him from the party for six years, a day after the by-elections.

“He has been suspended for anti-party activities. Other MLAs have also been warned against publicly issuing statements against the party and leadership. Whatever, they have to say they should say at party forums,” JDU’s nation general secretary K.C. Tyagi told The Telegraph. The party is facing a revolt by around 20 MLAs, many of whom have openly questioned the decisions of the party leadership.

JDU leaders say they had no option than to suspend the MLA. “The way Rajiv Ranjan was publicly issuing statements against the party on a day-to-day basis during campaigning for the 10 Assembly seats, it looked like he was inviting disciplinary action,” a senior party leader said.

However, Rajiv is not the only problem for the party. Over two-dozen MLAs are waiting to take on the party leadership if the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance fails to win a large chunk of seats in the byelections. The JDU leadership is keeping its fingers crossed for August 25 — the day votes will be counted. The JDU has 116 MLAs in the Assembly and depends heavily on the RJD’s 23 MLAs for survival.

Already, the sword of disqualification is hanging on 10 MLAs who cross-voted during the Rajya Sabha bypolls. The Speaker has ended hearing of the first lot of 4 MLAs. “We know we will not get justice from him. He has not allowed extension of time for hearing to even Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, who is in a Delhi hospital with a heart problem,” dissident MLA Neeraj Kumar Bablu said.

JDU leaders fear the voice of dissent will grow louder if the alliance fails to mop up seats in the bypolls.

Dissident Ranjan, an engineering college friend of former chief minister Nitish Kumar and former chief of the state electricity boards of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, was extremely critical of rampant corruption and the alliance with the RJD. He publicly denounced the Jitan Ram Manjhi government, saying transfer and posting of officials and employees was a business worth Rs 250 crore. He even suggested the government enact the Right to Bribery law.

Regarding the alliance with the RJD, he said: “For the last two decades, Nitish sought votes by slamming the jungle raj of Lalu-Rabri era. He is now joining hands with the same forces. Nitish voters will not accept this decision.”

Incidentally, Rajiv not only hails from Nalanda but also belongs to the same caste. He represents Islampur Assembly seat in the district.

Rajiv said: “My friend Nitish is angry with me because I have raised the issue of corruption.” He also said his college friend was now surrounded by sycophants and had no time for grassroot workers.

On Thursday, the day of byelections, Rajiv had declared he would never accept RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s diktats even if he were thrown out of the JDU. He told The Telegraph on Friday, party national president Sharad Yadav suspended him under pressure from Lalu. “I will continue my campaign against corruption and the alliance with Lalu.” Further, he said Sharad and Lalu plan to merge the JDU and RJD before March 31 next year and reduce Nitish’s credibility to zero. “This is perhaps the first time, a democratic party has suspended its MLA without issuing a show-cause notice,” he said stressing that over 65 party MLAs were with him against the proposed merger.