Lalu pushed to the back foot, agrees to majority demand

Lalu pushed to the back foot, agrees to majority demand

One of the worst kept political secrets of Bihar was that though RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar joined hands to check a combative BJP, Lalu was never in favour of projecting Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate.

So what made Lalu climbdown from his belligerent position and propose Nitish’s name as the leader of the secular alliance? Sources in the JD-U said the turning point was Nitish’s June 7 meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, before holding parleys with SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav in Lalu and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav’s presence.

“Nitish was tired of reports which talked about the RJD’s opposition to him being projected as the chief ministerial candidate. Every time Lalu was questioned about the issue, the RJD chief would dillydally and reiterate that the leadership issue would be decided once the Assembly polls were over. On June 7, Nitish reportedly made it clear that the polls would be fought strictly under his leadership or else the alliance with the RJD would go for a toss,” said a JD-U leader.

“The meeting with Rahul, too, turned the tide in Nitish’s favour. Before leaving for Patna on Sunday evening, Nitish told top Janata Parivar leaders, including Mulayam, that time was running out and a decision has to be taken soon,” said the JD-U leader.

“Soon after Nitish’s departure for Patna, a closed-door meeting took place at the SP chief’s house which was attended by Sharad and Lalu where the RJD president was made to see reason that if the alliance in Bihar had to be protected, he would have to back Nitish,” he added.

Pushed to the back foot, Lalu, who cannot contest polls for five years after he was convicted in the fodder scam, on Monday proposed Nitish’s name for the chief minister’s post.

Campaign strategist Prashant Kishore, the man who masterminded Narendra Modi’s poll campaign in 2014, will be working for Nitish.

Kishore, who coined the slogan “Abki baar, Modi sarkar”, has come up with “Aage badhta rahe Bihar, Phir ek baar Nitish Kumar” (Let Bihar continue to grow. Nitish Kumar once again), for the JD-U leader’s poll campaign.

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