Rift wide open

RSTV Bureau
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JD(U)’s dismal performance in Bihar has initiated a power struggle within the party ranks

The deep rooted fissures within the Janata Dal (United) have come to the fore front after the party’s humiliating rout in the 2014 General Elections. Soon after the results were announced, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar offered to resign owing responsibility for the defeat. His decision created flutters with several party leaders urging him to continue to lead the party while another section demanded party president Sharad Yadav be anointed as the next chief minister.

Nitish and Yadav have been involved in a power struggle for quite some time now and the latter was, till now, somewhat marginalised within the party because of the CM’s clout. The differences between the two leaders grew exponentially when Nitish took the decision of severing ties with the NDA — a move bitterly opposed by Yadav who was considered close to several NDA leaders. Sources had back then claimed that Yadav wanted the party to remain in the NDA fold but Nitish had made up his mind to part ways. Yadav didn’t have any say back then as the party was under the chief minister’s iron grip, but he sensed the opportunity after the results.

Soon after, it had become clear that the move to part ways with NDA was clearly a mistake and the blame had to be fixed. Sensing the discomfort of certain leaders who were on the verge of a revolt, Nitish decided to call it quits and hand over the baton to someone else. The move created a hullabaloo in the party and several MLAs and workers sat on a dharna outside the chief minister’s residence raising slogans against Yadav. Most of Kumar’s supporters alleged that it was Yadav who forced Nitish to take the call and insisted that Nitish should withdraw his decision. Senior party leader KC Tyagi even insisted that it was Yadav who should resign and take responsibility for party’s defeat.

Meanwhile, Yadav insisted that there was no going back on Nitish’s decision and that the next leader would be announced in a day after the party’s legislature meeting. Before the begining of the meeting Yadav told reporters, “Nitish Kumar’s resignation is final. The decision has been taken after much deliberation and is in the favour of the party, as well as, Kumar. It is in continuation of our decision to sever our ties with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).” Yadav, yet again, brought up the issue of parting ways with the NDA for which he singularly blames Nitish in private conversations.

But, Nitish remained unfazed by the swell in his support and is likely to announce a new chief minister tomorrow. It is widely speculated that the next CM could either be a representative of the Extremely Backward Class. Rumours of JD (U) aligning with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) are doing rounds in Bihar to counter the resurgent BJP.

Whatever be the outcome of this political jamboree, it seems certain that the JD(U) is on a shaky ground and faces serious threats of being completely marginalised in the state. It remains to be seen whether the party could present a unified force and brace the BJP storm that is threatening its existence in the state.