The Telegraph
Thursday , May 29 , 2014
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Dal gropes in dark, rules out RJD tie

Patna, May 28: The first meeting of JD(U)’s national office-bearers in New Delhi today after the Lok Sabha defeat passed a resolution ruling out a front with the RJD.

“There will be no front with the RJD,” JD(U) national general secretary K.C. Tyagi told The Telegraph. The RJD recently extended unconditional support to new chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi during the confidence motion in the Assembly, triggering speculation of a JD(U)-RJD alliance during the 2015 Assembly polls to stop the BJP in Bihar.

The JD(U), expectedly, drew criticism from the BJP for “ganging-up” with the RJD. Talks of an alliance with the RJD has also led to resentment within the party with several leaders criticising the move and even threatening to quit.

The JD(U) has already dispelled the perception. While thanking the RJD in the Assembly, chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi specifically stressed that his government did not need RJD support to survive. JD(U) insiders, however, said it was too early to talk about alliances and there could be a change of stand depending on “political situation”.

The office-bearers’ meeting was meant to introspect the reasons behind JD(U)’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls. Two of the most important leaders — former chief minister Nitish Kumar and present chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi — did not attend. “With the big two not attending, how serious do you think JD(U) supporters will be about the meeting,” asked a JD(U) MLA.

The meeting went through the ritual of expressing confidence in Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar’s leadership. It appreciated Nitish for stepping down as chief minister on moral grounds. It attributed the BJP’s victory to “polarisation” of voters on communal lines and also flayed the BJP’s stand on Article 370 (the BJP favours abrogation of the Act that confers special status on Jammu and Kashmir).

The meet amused the BJP. “The JD(U) should introspect honestly,” leader of the opposition Nand Kishore Yadav said. He said the JD(U) fared badly because of miscalculations by Nitish who snapped ties with the BJP.

The JD(U) seems to be groping in the dark on how to revive itself. “Nitish is meeting party leaders and workers from across the state daily and getting feedback on what went wrong. He will soon start travelling to all corners of the state,” said a senior JD(U) leader.

But the party is aware of difficulties ahead. “The BJP and its allies got around 40 per cent of votes in the Lok Sabha polls. We got 16 per cent. I don’t foresee a massive swing in our favour to defeat the BJP,” said a JD(U) MLA. The dearth of possibilities is adding to frustration. Three MLAs have called for the resignation of ministers for the party’s defeat.

The party’s main problem is grassroots-level organisation. “Though out of power for nine years, the RJD’s grassroots organisation is intact. Our organisational strength is non-existent after the alliance was called off,” the party MLA said. The party even lost core voters, the EBCs, to the BJP. The upper castes, too, deserted it. Old loyalists are bitter that outsiders are getting preference. “The party has a lot to introspect,” said a leader who lost the Lok Sabha polls.

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