Lalu to neutralise Dalit card that Nitish could play in future

Lalu to neutralise Dalit card that Nitish could play in future

RJD chief Lalu Prasad could end up gaining more in the Opposition's Presidential nominee Meira Kumar, as it could help him in countering Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar.
 
In Meira Kumar, the RJD president has found an opportunity to blunt the advantage Nitish felt he could garner in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by supporting NDA choice Ram Nath Kovind, a Maha Dalit from the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
 
Sources said Lalu was very vocal and adamant in the meeting of Opposition leaders on Thursday that they should choose a candidate and batted for Meira Kumar. This was soon after NCP chief Sharad Pawar said they could delay the decision by a day.
 
However, Lalu's calculation was that a candidate from Bihar, that too a Dalit, would put pressure on his ally JD(U). The JD(U) on Wednesday chose to support Kovind, a "cross border candidate", with an aim to send a message to Dalit constituency that had alienated them after Jiten Ram Manjhi left the party over differences with Nitish Kumar.
 
Sources said Lalu has read the JD(U) gameplan very well and wanted to counter it. Lalu is believed to have told some opposition leaders that "a thorn should be dealt with another thorn" and Meira Kumar could expose Nitish to difficulties.
 
"He wants to neutralise the Dalit card Nitish could play in the future. Lalu is now very vocal. He wants a message to go to the Bihar voters that it is he who is standing by the 'daughter of Bihar', a Dalit, and not Nitish. He is also sending the message that Nitish is pitching for an outsider Dalit," a senior leader said.
 
By supporting Kovind, JD(U) believes it could send a message to non-Jatav Dalits in Bihar. Manjhi's exit and BJP presence had forced Nitish to go for a grand alliance in Bihar with RJD and Congress.
 
Lalu, who flew down for the Opposition meeting straight from Ranchi after a court hearing, has also bluntly told media that Nitish has taken a "wrong decision".

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