| Chief minister Nitish Kumar at a news meet in Patna on Monday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna/Siwan, July 16: Chief minister Nitish Kumar today drew flak from his party colleagues and rival leaders for saying “political parties always keep their doors open” in the context of three former RJD leaders of Siwan — having close links with Mohammed Shahabuddin — joining the JD(U) on July 29.
Awadh Bihari Choudhary, Indra Deo Bhagat and Ezazul Haque — all associates of don-turned-politician Shahabuddin and having long innings in the Lalu-Rabri regime — today expressed their intention of joining the JD(U) in a news meet in Siwan. Choudhary, a minister throughout the 15-year RJD regime, and Bhagat quit the RJD today because of lack of “democracy” in the party. Haque, a relative of the jailed don, had severed ties with the RJD during the last Assembly polls.
Nitish’s statement in connection with the trio joining the JD(U) did not go down well with some of his party members. “The door of the JD(U) is open for even persons having links with Shahabuddin?” wondered a senior JD(U) leader, pointing out that the party had been “indiscriminate” in accommodating the RJD leaders in the JD(U). “Ramai Ram, Shyam Rajak, Mohammed Taslimmuddin and now these three,” the JD(U) leader said.
Resentment is brewing within the JD(U) over the inducted leaders getting key posts. “The doors of the party should be opened more selectively,” said a JD(U) leader.
The BJP questioned the motive of its ally — the JD(U) — behind the inclusion of the trio. “The majority of the Assembly seats in Siwan district are represented by the BJP. The JD(U) is looking for possible candidates for the next Assembly polls if the alliance snaps,” said a BJP MLA from Siwan. But he insisted that the switchover of these three leaders would not affect the electoral equations.
“Choudhary is a Yadav and this caste still regards Lalu as its leader. As far as the Muslims are concerned, Shahabuddin still holds the sway,” he said, recalling that Lalu Prasad had recently alleged that the JD(U) was pressurising Shahabuddin to join the party. When he refused, more cases were allegedly being brought up against him to keep him behind the bars.
Some JD(U) leaders, however, justified the induction of the RJD leaders in the party on the grounds that it had a demoralising affect on Lalu and his party. They are right to a certain extent because the RJD was today livid over the desertion of its three founder members.
“Choudhary was a minister during the Lalu-Rabri era for 15 years. He has also held the top party posts. In the days of power, he never complained about the functioning of RJD. Is he anxious to go to a ruling party because the RJD has not been in power for seven years in Bihar?” said the state party president, Ramchandra Purbey. He dubbed the desertion as political opportunism and said the RJD chief, Lalu Prasad, had accepted the resignation of Choudhary and Bhagat.