RJD to support JD(U) candidates in Bihar Rajya Sabha by-poll

RJD to support JD(U) candidates in Bihar Rajya Sabha by-poll

Responding positively to former chief minister Nitish Kumar's appeal, the RJD today decided to support JD(U) in the Rajya Sabha elections in two seats.

After a series of meetings with party legislators and senior leaders, RJD President Lalu Prasad said his MLAs would vote for the two official candidates of the JD(U) in the RS polls tomorrow.

"RJD will support the two candidates of the JD(U) in the RS polls. Our party has taken the decision in the interest of Bihar to establish socialist and secular forces here in future and to make unsuccessful the BJP conspiracy to destabilise the government here," Prasad told media persons.

The RJD decision came as a welcome relief for Nitish Kumar's party whose candidates, former diplomat Pawan Kumar Varma and veteran leader Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi were facing stiff challenge from two candidates, industrialist Sabir Ali and real estate baron Anil Kumar Sharma, put up by party dissidents.

The support of 21 RJD MLAs would see the official candidates of JD(U) sail through in the RS polls. So far they were falling short of a majority. The Assembly had 243-seats out of which 11 were vacant, bringing down the effective strength to 232.

The JD(U) had 117 MLAs including the Speaker, BJP 84, RJD 21, Congress four, CPI one and five Independents. In this scenario, the RS candidates needed 117 votes to secure a win. JD(U) sources have put the strength of dissident MLAs at around 20.

Prasad asked RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui to coordinate with the JD-U to see to it that the RS poll was conducted smoothly.

Prasad, however, while announcing his decision to support the JD(U), took a potshot at the party, which had remained opposed to him since 1994, blaming it for letting the BJP gain ground in Bihar and weakening the forces of social justice.

"We want to make it clear that not only the present ruling party provided a strong base to the BJP and gave it an opportunity to take roots in the state, but also left no stone unturned to weaken the forces of social justice," Prasad said.

"However, we understand our responsibility because we stick to our principles. In future also we will tread the path of social justice and secularism. We will further strengthen the socialist movement in the state," he said.

Prasad, who was flanked by party legislators who had attended the meeting, said four MLAs could not attend the meeting because of different reasons, but reiterated that they all would vote for the JD(U) official nominees.

Reacting to the incident, when several JD (U) leaders had played down the RJD support to the newly formed Jitan Ram Manjhi government during its confidence vote, as well as, the bitterness in both the parties against each other, Prasad said there was no need to look back to things gone by.

"What they (the ruling party) did earlier should not be seen. .........Our goal is to strengthen social justice and equality in the state and we should not deviate from it," Prasad said.

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