OPPOSITION PARTIES ARE HANDICAPPED TO CHALLENGE NITISH
Three decade old tryst of the RJD with the highly caste sensitive Bihar politics suffered the first ever worst jolt with the founder of the party, former union minister and vice president, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh quitting the party along with five MLCs.
The reason for the exodus of the senior leaders owes to the decision of Tejashvi Yadav to induct Rama Singh, a mafia don-turned-politician into the party and nominating him for the post of MLC, who was formerly associated with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and had defeated the RJD veteran Singh in his pocket borough of Vaishali in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Tejashvi would nominate Rama had become clear almost a fortnight back. Some senior leaders had also met Rabri Devi, wife of RJD supremo, and lodged their protest against this move. But Tejashvi prevailed over and went ahead with his move. He tried to justify his action by arguing that a Rajput leader Jagadanand Singh was already the party chief and nominating Singh yet another Rajput leader as MLC would alienate the Yadavs, the basic support base of the party.
But the insiders refuse to subscribe to this clarification. Rama Singh is also a Rajput and in fact has been a severe critic of Lalu Yadav. RJD has lost some of its members in the caste struggle with his supporters. They argue that his induction would not help the party.
Tejashvi on his part is unwilling to listen to any plea against Rama Singh. He feels that in order to break the hegemony of the senior leaders it was necessary to bring in Rama. Tejashvi also holds the view that Raguvansh Singh has outlived his importance for the party as well as to his own castemen.
While Raghuvansh Singh has been admitted to the AIIMS for Corona treatment the other five MLCs who resigned from the party have joined Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United). Speculations are rife that Raghuvansh Singh would soon announced formation of a new party.
SM Qamar Alam, a national general secretary of the RJD walked to chairman of the Vidhan Parishad Awadhesh Narain Singh alongwith four of his colleagues Sanjay Prasad, Radha Charan Seth, Ranvijay Kumar Singh and Dilip Rai and handed over their resignations. In his resignation submitted to the party leadership, Prasad conveyed his displeasure over the ‘type of people’ being inducted into the RJD. With this, the RJD, which had eight MLCs is now left with mere three members in the state Legislative Council.
With RJD MLCs defecting to the JD(U), the ruling party in the state now has 21 MLCs. JD(U) is now the single largest party in the 75-member council, which presently has a strength of 46 as 29 seats are lying vacant. The BJP has 16 MLCs in the council and also has the support of an independent MLC.
The opposition leaders put the blame for this development entirely on Tejashvi. They allege that in recent times Tejashvi has turned arrogant and was not willing to listen to any rationale argument. He has his own group of friends and advisers who feed him with the information and suggestions. Often these feed backs are not in consonance to the prevailing ground realities.
It was at their suggestion Tejashvi preferred to oppose Kanhaiya Kumar. They had projected him as a challenger to his authority and political stature. While Tejashvi has been soft towards the state leaders of the CPI, his dislike for Kanhaiya has been a known fact in the political circle.
A senior leader belonging to the opposition rank confided that most of the opposition leaders were reluctant to listen to his dictates, but it was the electoral compulsion that he uses to goad them and make them submit to his desire.
The latest development has already unnerved the entire opposition camp. Though subjective conditions are ripe for defeat of the NDA at the ensuing assembly elections, the objective conditions send the wrong message. There is a lingering perception in the political circle that more opposition leaders may prefer to join hands with Nitish Kumar. The person who till a couple of days back was the most despised leader has suddenly turned the most sought after leader.
Biennial elections to the nine seats to the Upper House, falling under the Vidhan Sabha constituency, are to be held soon. Though the RJD has announced that it will be fielding three candidates whose names would be made public upon approval from Lalu Yadav, opposition sources maintain that the going for RJD would be tough.
Meanwhile some opposition leaders have come out with some alternate idea. A whispering campaign has been launched to forge a new alliance of parties, minus RJD led by Tejashvi, to contest the assembly elections scheduled to be held in November. An opposition leader reiterated that Nitish Kumar may not be opposed to this proposition. In 2015 he had walked out of the mahagathbandhan due to domineering attitude of Lalu. He would not be averse to lead any front without him.
It is a misnomer that the entire Yadav community is behind Tejashvi and accepted him as their leader. The bickering in the Lalu family has robbed the party of its appeal and charm. Even a significant number of Yadav leaders of RJD do not endorse his style of functioning. No doubt Tejashvi has been vocal against Nitish Kumar in the case of return of migrants, but on personal level he failed to reach out to the migrant labourers.