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Nitish may become NDA Convenor, Sharad Yadav removed as leader of JD(U) in RS

Shekhar Iyer, DH News Service, New Delhi: Aug 12 2017, 20:16 IST
Sharad Yadav was removed from the Rajya Sabha following open rebellion against Nitish Kumar and claiming that the 'real' JD(U) was with him. PTI photo.

Sharad Yadav was removed from the Rajya Sabha following open rebellion against Nitish Kumar and claiming that the 'real' JD(U) was with him. PTI photo.

Senior Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav, who opposed the party’s decision to ally with the BJP in Bihar, was on Saturday removed as leader of JD(U) in the Rajya Sabha. The action against Yadav came as BJP president Amit Shah announced that he had formally invited Bihar chief minister minister Nitish Kumar to join the NDA.

Nitish is expected to formally announce his decision to join the NDA at the party’s national executive meeting in Patna on August 19. Nitish could be made convenor of the NDA, the stature once enjoyed by George Fernandes and Sharad Yadav, according to JD(U) leaders. The NDA has not had a convenor since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

On Saturday, JD(U) members of the Upper House members backing Nitish met Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to hand him a letter appointing R.C.P. Singh as their leader in place of Yadav in the House. Singh is very close to Nitish.

Without commenting on his removal as parliamentary party leader, Yadav hit out at Nitish, saying the party is not Kumar's alone but belonged to him too. "There are two JD(U)s in Bihar, one is sarkari (official) and another is janata (of the people). All the party legislators, leaders, who are close to the government for personal benefit are with Nitish Kumar, but leaders and workers close to the people are with me," Yadav said in Bihar's Madhepura district on the last day of his three-day Samvad Yatra to meet people and interact with them.
JD(U) has two MPs in the Lok Sabha and nine in Rajya Sabha, which is very crucial for the BJP considering it is in minority in the Upper House.

Nitish had suspended one Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar Ansari from the parliamentary party for attending a meeting of Opposition parties convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday.

Shah's invite to Nitish to join the NDA was only a formality after he led his party out of the Grand Alliance in Bihar and formed a new government in the state with the help of the BJP. The JD(U) could be offered two ministerial berths in the Centre – one of cabinet rank and the other as minister of state, party sources said.

JD(U) national general secretary KC Tyagi said, “Nitish Kumar himself will moot the proposal for joining the NDA, which will be passed unanimously. This is a historic moment for Bihar when the same alliance is at the helm of affairs in the state and at the Centre. The combined efforts of Centre and state will help the state reach new heights of development.”

During the previous NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Samata Party leader George Fernandes was the convenor and later the baton was passed on to Sharad Yadav when the NDA remained in the Opposition.

Nitish Kumar had snapped ties with the NDA in 2013 after 17 years of partnership to protest against Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate. With Nitish’s return to NDA fold, the BJP believes it has bolstered the prospects for NDA in the 2019 general elections.

Shah said in a tweet that he had invited Nitish to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during their meeting at his residence in Delhi a day earlier.

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