In a significant political development which will have wide political ramifications, the Rashtriya Janata Dal headed by Lalu Prasad on Wednesday decided to support Nitish Kumar’s nominees in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha bypolls.
Though Lalu stopped short of issuing a whip to his party legislators, he said his MLAs should not cross-vote, “or else they will be playing into the hands of communal forces which are hell-bent on destabilising the JD (U) government in Bihar.”
Stoutly backing the Jitan Ram Manjhi-led JD (U) regime in the state, Lalu said, “Let us today not talk about the bitterness between me and my younger brother Nitish.
Right now, the aim is to strengthen all secular forces, including the Samajwadis/Socialists, so as to foil the evil designs of communal forces led by the BJP.” Lalu’s softened stand towards Nitish comes three days after the JD(U) leader sought support of the RJD president, his arch-rival till a few months ago.
The JD(U) has also asked the Congress and the CPI to bail it out in the RS by-election, which has been necessitated following seats vacated by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Ram Vilas Paswan and Ram Kripal Yadav, all of whom won the Lok Sabha elections. Already one RS seat has gone to JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, who was elected unopposed last week.
Nitish is, of late, under huge pressure due to stiff resistance put up by the rebels. Nearly 24 dissident JD(U) legislators have fielded their own nominees Sabir Ali and Anil Sharma against the official JD(U) nominees Pawan Verma (former diplomat) and Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi (ex-LJP chief of Bihar unit).
The dissidents are believed to have the backing of 84-member BJP in the 243-member Assembly. The JD(U) with 117 MLAs (including rebels) is banking heavily on RJD (21 MLAs), Congress (4), CPI (1) and Independents (2). With the showdown imminent, the voting will now take place on June 19 to elect two candidates for the Upper House.