| Parliamentary affairs minister Srawan Kumar at the news meet in Patna on Saturday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna, June 21: The JDU is clueless about what it should do with its 18 dissident MLAs who voted for Independent candidates in the Rajya Sabha bypoll, forcing the party to reach out to RJD chief Lalu Prasad for support.
On Saturday, parliamentary affairs minister Srawan Kumar issued the list of the 18 MLAs who had cross-voted and declared that he had submitted a report to former chief minister Nitish Kumar, national president Sharad Yadav and other leaders in which he had recommended strong action against the 18. “The very fact that they voted against the official candidates means that they do not wish to remain in the party,” he said.
Nitish on Friday declared that the dissidents could go anywhere they wish to go. “However, the anti-defection laws cannot be implemented since the voting took place outside the Assembly. At the most, we can suspend them from the party. Even in that case, they will be members of the JDU legislative party,” said a senior party leader.
The 18 rebel MLAs identified by the party are Gyanendra Kumar Gyanu, Raju Kumar Singh, Neeraj Kumar Singh, Ajit Kumar, Anil Kumar, Rahul Kumar, Madan Sahni, Devesh Prasad, Suresh Chanchal, Ravindra Rai, Jakir Hussain, Sanjay Kumar, Rajeshwar Raj, Sunil Kumar, Meena Dwivedi, Amla Devi, Poonam Devi and Sujata Devi.
The party, however, clarified that MLAs Raj Kumar Rai, Rajia Khatun and Sarfaraz Alam had not cross-voted.
The dissident MLAs say they would not leave the party either. “We will continue our fight for democracy and the dignity of legislators. It is due to our resistance that has led to the party MLAs and workers being called for talks with senior leaders, including Nitish,” said Gyanu.
So far, the dissidents continue to show defiance but a section of the JDU leaders feel that efforts should be made for reconciliation rather than confrontation. “Some like Gyanu have been with Nitish right from the inception of Samata Party in 1996. Most of them have been loyal party legislators,” said the JDU leader stressing that having back in the fold would be better than having to rely on the RJD inside the Assembly for the survival of the Jitan Ram Manjhi government.
Though the dissidents decl ared that they would do nothing to upset the Manjhi government, Nitish loyalists do not trust them. “There are indications that all the 18 may contest the Assembly polls on BJP tickets,” said a Nitish loyalist.