Party is witnessing a tussle between two factions, with its supreme leader Nitish Kumar remaining silent on the issue.


New Delhi: With the appointment of Rajiv Ranjan Singh, alias Lalan Singh, as the chief of Janata Dal United, the party is witnessing a cold war between the rival factions within the party, one represented by the present president and Upendra Kushwaha and the other faction represented by the former party president and cabinet minister in the central government Ramchandra Prasad Singh, popularly known as R.C.P. Singh. The tug-of-war started with supporters of the former president absent from the welcoming ceremony of the new president which was followed by the welcoming ceremony of R.C.P Singh in Patna when he returned after taking-oath as the minister in the Narendra Modi government when the supporters loyal to the other faction were absent. Now, organizational decisions taken by Lalan Singh show that he is sidelining R.C.P Singh and his trusted lieutenants within the party. As of now, it seems that the party’s real boss and Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had not tried to resolve this issue. Differences arose between Lalan Singh and R.C.P Singh when the latter took oath as the only minister from the party in the central government, while Lalan Singh missed the bus. Many party leaders felt that R.C.P Singh didn’t negotiate well with the BJP’s central leadership on the issue.

Even in the recently reconstituted JDU’s North East Executive Council (NEEC), R.C.P. Singh was not included. NEEC is the first committee reconstituted by the new president after he took over the party’s leadership on 31 July, replacing R.C.P. Singh. States of North East like Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh are important for the party’s national ambitions. The JDU had won seven Assembly seats out of 15 it contested in Arunachal Pradesh in the last Assembly elections and became the second largest party in the state.

The NEEC, a sub-group within the party, was formed in 2018 when Nitish Kumar was the party’s president and he appointed R.C.P. Singh as its member. In the new committee, Lalan Singh had appointed JDU national general secretary and party incharge for northeast states Afaque Ahmad Khan, party’s national general secretary and Bihar’s Water Resource minister Sanjay Kumar Jha, Member of Parliament from Jhanjharpur Bihar Ram Prit Mandal, along with party’s state president’s  from Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim.

A senior party functionary who is also a member of Bihar Legislative Council said: “Undoubtedly there is a tussle within the party; R.C.P Singh had control over the party for more than eight years as he was party’s general secretary organization. He had his own people in the organizational set-up, they were groomed by him. Now, with Lalan Singh at the helm of affairs in the organization, he is trying to assert his own influence and sidelining R.C.P. Singh’s people. Sensing this, R.C.P Singh is accommodating his people in Delhi under him as ministers have the right to appoint 4-5 people under them. Upendra Kushawaha is with Lalan Singh in this power game. Nitish Kumar is silent, and not showing any interest as of now in the tussle. When it goes out of hand, only then the supreme leader of the party would intervene.”

Trying to play safe, the official line of the party as expected is that everything is all right. JDU MLA and senior leader Pankaj Mishra said: “There is no question of any conflict in the party. Our leader is Nitish Kumar, every other leader be it R.C.P. Singh, Lalan Singh, and Upendra Kushwaha all are working under his leadership and guidance. When Lalan Singh came to Patna after being appointed as the party national president, he said that ‘our only aim is to strengthen the party under Nitishji’; when R.C.P. Singh came to Patna, he categorically stated that ‘our leader is Nitishji and we have to strengthen his hand’. So, everyone is saying the same thing and are on the same page.” But those who analyse the politics of Bihar and Janata Dal United agree that all is not right and the power game is unfolding in Patna.