RJD sees a message for itself in Nitish Kumar’s denial to join Modi government

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Published: June 3, 2019 2:34:01 PM

With an imprisoned Lalu missing in action, and the party struggling to regain its lost base in Bihar, the RJD sees a message for itself in erstwhile ally Nitish Kumar's denial to join the Modi government and refuse allies Bharatiya Janata Party and Lok Janashakti Party any representation in the recent Cabinet expansion.

nitish kumar File photo of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. The RJD is seeing an opportunity in Nitish’s denial to join the Modi government.

The recently concluded Lok Sabha election saw the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav pushed to the brink, unable to win a single seat of the 40 parliamentary constituencies in the state. With an imprisoned Lalu missing in action, and the party struggling to regain its lost base in Bihar, the RJD sees a message for itself in erstwhile ally Nitish Kumar’s denial to join the Modi government and refuse allies Bharatiya Janata Party and Lok Janashakti Party any representation in the recent Cabinet expansion. In a statement issued on Monday, senior RJD leader and Yadav family’s close aide Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said that Nitish will surely quit the NDA. Stating that switching sides is in the JD(U) leader’s blood, he said, “You know Nitish ji, he will surely switch sides but no one can predict when will he do that or what will he say. This has not happened once but several times. It’s not surprising.”

Dropping ample hints that RJD doors are still open for Nitish, he said, “All I want is that everyone should come together, against BJP.” Raghuvansh Prasad said this while referring to Nitish Kumar’s 2013 decision to quit the NDA after Narendra Modi was named as the prime ministerial candidate. Though he contested the 2014 general elections solo and won just two seats, he joined the ranks with arch-rival Lalu ahead of the 2015 Assembly polls. The alliance secured over 150 seats in 243-chair Bihar Legislative Assembly, handing a humiliating to defeat to the BJP. However, he dissolved the alliance government abruptly in 2017 and returned to NDA fold.

The talks of a rift between BJP and JD(U) started doing the rounds after Nitish rejected the BJP’s offer of a “symbolic represenatation” in the new Modi government at the Centre. Nitish said that he was against any symbolic representation and therefore his party will not join the government. He, however, made it clear that the JD(U) will remain in the NDA and support the BJP government in Delhi. The BJP had offered one MoS berth to its Bihar ally.

On Sunday, when Nitish Kumar expanded his Council of Ministers, no name from the BJP and LJP figured in the list of eight new ministers. It is believed that Nitish’s snub to the BJP was his answer to the saffron party for the treatment meted out to him last week during government formation at the Centre. Both the BJP and JD(U) had contested 17 seats in the Lok Sabha elections while the LJP fought on six. The BJP and LJP scored 100% while JD(U) won all seats but one.

Talks of a rift between the ruling partners gathered steam after BJP and JD(U) leaders didn’t turn up at each other’s Iftar parties on Sunday evening. The RJD, which failed to open its tally in Bihar in the general elections, is facing a leadership crisis in the absence of Lalu who is serving a jail term in fodder scam cases. Assembly elections in the state are due to be held in October-November 2020. And ahead of the state polls, the RJD faces a tough challenge to revive its cadre where the BJP-JD(U)-LJP combine swept to power in the general elections with a vote share of nearly 55%.

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