The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Rebels keep up Nitish tirade

Patna, July 16: The Samata legislature party today met here to contemplate recommendations against MP Prabhunath Singh for his alleged outburst at Monday’s national executive that provoked railway minister Nitish Kumar to put in his papers. But it did not sanction any action.

Notwithstanding the soft line on Prabhunath, rebel leaders have decided to start a “vicious” campaign here against Nitish from July 19.

After the meeting, legislature party leader Upendra Prasad Kushwaha told reporters: “We have called the outburst of the MP unfortunate and described the railway minister’s decision to quit as an appropriate move.” However, a resolution asked Nitish to withdraw his resignation letter in the interest of the nation, he added.

The legislature party members had yesterday decided to recommend tough disciplinary action against the Maharajganj MP, but, strangely, did not raise the issue, adding another twist to the wrangling within the faction-riven party.

Kushwaha had yesterday described Prabhunath’s sniping at the railway minister as the “outcome of a politics of blackmail”. He still held the view, he said. Udaynarayan Chowdhary, MLA and party spokesman, said the party’s state unit was solidly behind Nitish. Both are known Nitish loyalists.

Party chief and defence minister George Fernandes is expected to meet the state leaders soon with advice to bury the incident.

But buoyed by the sniping at Nitish, the rebels are chugging ahead with their campaign. The protests will start in Patna and later spread to the districts.

“The real battle against Nitish will soon start,” said Raghunath Jha, an MP who was recently expelled along with Brahmanand Mandal. They have confirmed that they would simultaneously start the campaign against Nitish.

The expulsion of the two MPs and four MLAs, all stated to be Fernandes loyalists, seems to have pitted Nitish against leaders like Prabhunath. While Nitish commands the loyalty of most of the MLAs, a majority of the 12 party MPs are with Fernandes.

The expelled leaders said the focus of the campaign would be Nitish’s irregular practices in the ministry and whimsical style of functioning. They, however, might stay away from a meeting under the banner of the Loktantrik Samata Party, floated a month ago by P.K. Sinha, a Bihar MLC expelled by the Nitish lobby, for reasons related to defection.

Sinha slammed Nitish today, blaming him for weakening the party. He threatened to release documentary evidences of Nitish’s corruption in awarding railway contracts and swindling huge amounts of money in executing projects. Bhai Virendra, one of the expelled MLAs, said Nitish’s ego and autocratic style of functioning has pushed the party to the brink of a split.

Email This Page