Patna: There was an air of surprise as television channels and agencies reported on Monday the likely nomination of journalist-turned-Janata Dal United MP Harivansh as the NDA candidate for the post of Rajya Sabha vice-chairman. But chief minister Nitish Kumar seemed assured.
“Talks have taken place about fielding Harivansh,” he told journalists on Monday.
He did not say when or with whom he had spoken. Baffled JDU sources said the talks might have taken place when Nitish met BJP chief Amit Shah in Patna last month.
The election to the post of vice-chairman is needed because the post has been vacant since P.J. Kurien retired in June. The BJP is eager to grab the post but numerically it would require the help of regional parties.
The elections are to take place at 11am on Thursday, Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu announced on Monday, according to PTI.
Earlier, Naidu had suggested that the deputy chairman be elected by consensus. But an election seems inevitable with the Opposition likely to field a candidate. Nominations have to be filed before noon on Wednesday.
Harivansh’s selection, a senior BJP leader said, “signifies that whatever leaders of both parties may say about the number of seats or who would be the face of the NDA, the alliance is firmly on track. The dialogue on things to come is confined to Nitish ji and the central leadership.”
Bihar JDU and BJP leaders, however, seemed surprised. There has been a war of words between the JDU and the BJP over seat-sharing for 2019. Sources say Nitish wants the JDU to fight as many seats as the BJP – 17 each, leaving the rest for the LJP and RLSP. But the BJP is reluctant to give as many seats and the LJP and RLSP are unwilling to leave seats for the JDU.
“But Harivansh’s announcement gives hope that a solution to the complex issue will be arrived at between Nitish and Amit Shah,” said a JDU minister.
Courtesy: The Telegraph