However, the JDU does not appear to be in a mood to oblige, as of now.
New Delhi: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which is facing a leadership crisis in Bihar, has started wooing Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) in order to revive the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) for next year’s Assembly elections. However, JDU does not appear in a mood to oblige, as of now.
Sources said the RJD is facing a leadership crisis as Lalu Prasad Yadav is serving a jail term in the multi-crore fodder scam and his son and former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav is not taking interest in the party affairs following RJD’s dismal performance in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The party drew a blank.
“Tejashwi was hardly visible during the recent Assembly session. He was not seen during an RJD meeting called by his mother Rabri Devi in Patna this week. He appears to be disenchanted with his political career. In fact, his brother Tej Pratap Yadav and sister Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha MP, also did not turn up for the meeting,” a source said.
Such is the confusion within the party’s rank and file that while all the party MLAs and MLCs, besides members of the Rajya Sabha and top office-bearers, were supposed to attend the meeting, only half of the members in both the Houses of the state Assembly turned up. Sources said there is speculation that many of the RJD MLAs are in touch with the JDU, waiting to switch sides.
“In this scenario, one possible option before the RJD is to tie up with the JDU and revive the Mahagathbandhan so that it stays relevant in state politics. As of now, the RJD is directionless and workers are highly demoralised,” a source said.
A sense of the changing equations came from senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari recently, who said Nitish Kumar should come to the fore of national politics as the Opposition was in a bad shape. He said: “I have been observing Nitish Kumar in politics for the past 30 years. He has the capability to become the Prime Minister.”
Tiwari, who was in JDU for a long time, also said: “Despite being a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Kumar has never compromised with his secular credentials.” JDU, it is to be noted, opposed the Centre’s move to scrap Article 370 and dividing Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories.
Another senior RJD leader, Shivchandra Ram said that Nitish Kumar was compelled to oppose the BJP despite being in the NDA, citing JDU’s opposition to issues like Triple Talaq and Article 370. He said that Nitish Kumar should leave the BJP and join hands with the poor, Dalits and downtrodden people.
However, the JDU does not appear to be in a mood to oblige. When contacted, JDU general secretary K.C. Tyagi told The Sunday Guardian: “We are in NDA and are very comfortable.”
Asked if there was no question of going back to the Mahagathbandhan, he said: “What does my statement imply?”
The RJD source said that the RJD is desperate since the party has become rudderless in the absence of Lalu and Tejashwi. “Moreover, Tej Pratap and Misa Bharti too have never been acceptable to the party workers. Lalu never promoted leadership outside his family despite the fact that the party has no dearth of good leaders. In this situation, the party needs a face to come back to power. This can be possible if JDU joins back the Mahagathbandhan, which, in turn, can project Nitish Kumar’s as the CM face,” the source added. The RJD’s hope of reviving the Mahagathndhan originates from the fact that the BJP is planning to seek more number of seats from the JDU for the 2020 Assembly elections. In fact, a big cross-section of the BJP wants the party to be the “big brother” in NDA in Bihar—what was done in case of Maharashtra—so that BJP could have its own Chief Minister, in case the NDA comes back to power.
The source said since Nitish Kumar was unlikely to accept this formula, RJD leaders hope that Kumar would sever ties with the BJP. If that happens, Nitish Kumar could join the Mahagathbandhan. It is to be noted that RJD, JDU and Congress had contested the last 2015 Assembly elections as part of Mahagathbandhan and came to power with Nitish Kumar as the CM, but later on, Kumar parted ways with the other two and joined NDA in July 2017.