JD(U) seeks change of guard as it prepares for 2019 polls

RSTV Bureau

Sharad_rajyasabhaBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may be coronated as the chief of his party Janata Dal (United) with reports emerging that current party president and senior MP Sharad Yadav may be not be seeking an extension to his term. JD (U), which is ruling Bihar in coalition with RJD and Congress party, is slated to elect its chief this month.

68-year-old Sharad Yadav’s 10-year long tenure as a party president comes to an end on April 10 with JD (U) holding it National Council meeting to elect its leader.

“Sharad Yadav as party president has completed his three successive terms. He has now refused to make any amendment in the party constitution so as to elect him for the next coming term,” party spokesperson KC Tyagi said in a statement today.

Yadav, one of the founder leaders of the party along with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has been at the helm since 2006 and was re-elected for a third term in 2013 by amending the party’s constitution which then allowed a maximum of two tenures.

Sharad Yadav is also learnt to have conveyed to Kumar his view of not seeking an extension to his tenure. Kumar had played instrumental role in Yadav’s elevation as the party chief in 2006 post the ouster of its president head George Fernandes in an election. Sharad Yadav was re-elected as party chief in 2009 and again in 2013.

FILE: Patna : Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad greet each other after Mahagathbandhan's (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections at RJD office in Patna. Photo - PTI

FILE: Patna : Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad greet each other after Mahagathbandhan’s (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections at RJD office in Patna.
Photo – PTI

There is a buzz in the party that Nitish Kumar, who led the victorious grand alliance in 2015 Bihar assembly polls, himself may become the party chief. Kumar is also looking to expand the footprints of his party beyond Bihar with a merger with Ajit Singh-led RLD and former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha on the cards.

The change of guard in JD (U) will indicate the changes in its internal dynamics at a time when Nitish Kumar is being seen to be preparing the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls along with election strategist Prashant Kishor, who has emerged as his most dependable ally after playing a vital role in the party’s rout of BJP in 2015 Bihar assembly polls.

Though the party chief’s tenure is of two years, elections in several states delayed the organisational polls and it recently conveyed to the Election Commission that it will complete the process by June 30.

Under Yadav’s third tenure soon after it began in April 2013, JD(U) broke up with its long-time ally BJP after Kumar made clear his strong reservations on Narendra Modi’s candidature for the post of Prime Minister.

JD (U) suffered a humiliating loss in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but bounced back in the 2015 Assembly polls after striking a new alliance with Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Congress.

(With inputs from the PTI)