The Janata Dal (United) has decided to attend on Tuesday the meeting called by Opposition parties to decide their nominee for the Vice President’s elections, scheduled for 5 August.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, JDU general secretary K.C. Tyagi said there is no question of boycotting the Opposition meeting, scheduled to be held here on 11 July, to discuss the VP election. “After all we are very much for the Opposition unity,” he said. The last date for filing nominations is 18 July.
Asked who will attend the meeting, he said: “We will take a final call in a day or two. Nitishji is not well and is suffering from viral fever. But he will decide who will attend the meeting. We have received the invitation for the meeting.”
JDU’s alliance partner, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), has expressed happiness over the move. “Our leader Lalu Prasad has been trying to bring all non-BJP parties under one umbrella in order to dislodge the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. We are happy that this process has started taking shape,” said RJD spokesperson Pragati Mehta, speaking to this newspaper from Patna.
The BJP, on the other hand, has refused to comment on the JDU move. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said he would not say anything on the JDU’s decision to attend the Opposition meeting.
The development comes after Nitish’s decision to support NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind for the Presidential elections greatly embarrassed the Congress, which is trying to stitch up an Opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Presidential poll will be held on 19 July for which gthe Opposition has fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
According to sources, the fresh move is likely to put to rest speculation about JDU moving towards the NDA. Sources said this clearly indicates that the “Mahagathbandhan” is intact in Bihar and that there was no threat to the Nitish government, at least for the time being.
Sources in the BJP said they were not much excited when Nitish Kumar announced support to Kovind. “Nitish Kumar had supported Pranab Mukherjee during the last Presidential election when he was a part of the NDA. This time he supported the NDA candidate. We were actually waiting for his stand on the VP election. Now that he is likely to support the Opposition candidate in the VP polls, it has become clear that there is no change in equations in Bihar,” said a source.
He said, in any case, the RJD would not like to pull out from the government despite differences with JDU, as it came to power in the state after a gap of 10 years. At the same time, JDU will not make any first move to break the alliance and go for alternate formations (with BJP) as there are many contradictions involved. “Therefore, it can be said that Nitish Kumar will continue to lead the Mahagathbandhan and any change in political equations appears unlikely,” said the source.