The divergent stand on ‘support’ to opposing presidential candidates by two major partners of the Grand Alliance —RJD and JD (U)—has not only threatened the future of the government but also put a question mark on the prospects of a united challenge to the NDA at the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The confrontation between the two parties, a day after state JD (U) president Bashistha Narayan Singh’s terse warning to rein in RJD leaders or face the music, only escalated further on Monday, indicating that the plan to replicate a Bihar like GA at the national level has all but hit a big roadblock.
With deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav in an unrelenting mood after describing chief minister Nitish Kumar’s move to support Kovind as “opportunism”, which he said ‘has little shelf life’, the JD (U) unleashed its battery of spokesperson, right from Delhi to Patna, to retaliate in full measure.
Secretary general of JD (U) KC Tyagi led the charge, saying “Our party is the ‘mother’ of the alliance and it will be a folly to consider it a ‘handmaiden’. The responsibility of a mother is bigger. We will tolerate it for some more time. But RJD chief Lalu Prasad must understand that unrestrained outbursts only contribute to shortening the life span of an alliance.”
If things are not brought under control, it is likely that the state executive committee meeting of the JD (U), on July 3, and subsequent national executive meeting, on July 9, will be stormy affairs, with party leaders, who have been maintaining restraint till now, may authorize Kumar to take a call on the fate of the alliance.
Already, the war of words has turned bitter, with JD (U) spokesman Sanjay Singh questioning why Prasad was allowing CM-baiters Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Bhai Birendra to sit along his sides. “He should tell when they will be shown the door,” he said, indicating that nothing less than direct action will soothe frayed tempers.
Congress, which had maintained a safe distance on issues being contested by JD (U) and RJD, on Monday, questioned the wisdom of Kumar’s decision to back Kovind’s candidature.
“What will happen if a person, who is guided by so many principles, keeps changing his stance”, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad wondered, while speaking to a TV channel in New Delhi.
“The fire has been stoked by the RJD. It is summer and fire gets out of hand easily in this season. It is up to Prasad to douse the fire quickly,” said Ajay Alok, of the JD (U), while yet another spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said, “the non-realisation of truth often proves to be self-destructive.”
With the JD (U) toughening its stance, the RJD started to soften its words. Party chief Lalu Prasad summoned Maner legislator Bhai Birendra, who had launched a personal attack on Kumar, terming him a ‘Jaychand’ (betrayer), in the afternoon.
RJD spokesman Manoj Jha saidt that leaders of both sides should refrain from issuing unwarranted statements. “Who mattered in the formation of the government is not the issue for debate. Rather, the question is why people voted in favour of GA.. Fighting communal forces was the real reason and we should not fall into the BJP’s trap,” he said.
The relations between the parties, headed by ‘bade bhai (Lalu Prasad)’ and ‘chote bhai (Nitish Kumar), have hit a new low and speculation is rife anything could happen here onwards. The two leaders hardly spoke during a recent iftaar party hosted by Lalu Prasad at his residence on Saturday.