Fissures in Opposition unity; JD(U) decides to stay away from protest

Rajat Kain

FILE: Patna: File photo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Bihar Congress President Ashok Chaudhary at a press conference after Mahagathbandhan's (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections, November 8, 2015. Photo - PTI

FILE: Patna: File photo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Bihar Congress President Ashok Chaudhary at a press conference after Mahagathbandhan’s (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections, November 8, 2015.
Photo – PTI

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) has sprang up as a weak link in the Opposition unity on the day they are observing ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ to protest against the demonestisation. Prominent opposition leader and senior Rajya Sabha MP Sharad Yadav was absent from the Opposition meeting on Monday morning, dropping hints of cracks in the Opposition unity.

For the record, the Bihar Chief Minister has welcomed the demonetisation move, though he has raised questions over the hardships faced by the people.

However, till last week, senior JD(U) MP Sharad Yadav had been on the forefront of opposition protest, even speaking during the yet-to-be concluded debate on the issue in the Upper House.

Early today, opposition parties held their meeting in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, where it was decided that the protests will continue till their demands are met. The JD(U) chose to skip the meeting with sources saying party leader Sharad Yadav had left Delhi early this morning.

This is not the first instance of cracks in Opposition unity but this is certainly the most noticeable.

Nitish Kumar had just last year charioted a successful ‘Grand Alliance’ in Bihar assembly polls trouncing the BJP-led NDA. The JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘mahagathbandhan’ had won 178 out of 243 seats.

New Delhi: Ghulam Nabi Azad with senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav at Parliament. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: Ghulam Nabi Azad with senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav at Parliament.
Photo – PTI

But the JD(U) has now decided not to throw its weight behind the Opposition protest against Modi government’s demonetisation move.

“We have supported the Centre’s demonetisation move. How can we oppose or be the part of activity like bandh which is meant to protest the issue which our party has strongly supported,” Bihar unit JD(U) President Bashishtha Narayan Singh had said on Sunday.

“We have taken an ideological position in favour of demonetisation so how can we be part of any agitation seeking its roll back,” another senior leader KC Tyagi said spelling his party’s stand.

Speaking at an event in New Delhi yesterday, JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha MP Pavan Varma said his party has got the feedback that despite the hardships faced by people, they were supporting the move. “Opposition could have, even on the question of implementation, played a more coordinated and a calibrated role. We support the intent behind demonetisation. We critic its implementation,” he said.

The JDU leader also said that his party was willing to wait to see whether the goals that the exercise was seeking to achieve will be achieved or not. He however, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have come suo-motto to the House and participated in the debate, considering the magnitude of the issue.

Incidentally, on Sunday, BJP President Amit Shah lauded Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his support to demonetisation.

“I publicly commend Nitish Kumar for the support he has given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against black money and corruption… We also acknowledge his support to the GST bill,” Shah said at a public meeting in Bengaluru.

(With inputs from the Agencies)