The Left parties have brokered a truce among the warring Bihar ‘mahagathbandhan’ partners following days of squabble triggered by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to support NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind. Sources said JD(U) and RJD chiefs Kumar and Lalu Prasad respectively have asked their leaders to not comment against each other. The Congress too has conveyed to the Bihar chief minister that its leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s attack on him was avoidable.
“The Left leadership has worked for a truce as the infighting was not good for opposition unity. Our party will join opposition parties in the Monsoon Session to corner the government over a number of issues,” JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi said. Tyagi later joined a protest organised by civil society groups against cases of lynching. To a question about whether his party will boycott the midnight GST launch event in Parliament if other opposition parties do so, he said it will take a call later.
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The JD(U) had so far maintained that it will join the exercise as the GST bill was supported by almost the entire opposition and Bihar being a consumption state will benefit from it. He cited farmers’ protest and incidents of lynching as among the major issues against the government. The three-party alliance running the Bihar government had come under strain after Kumar lashed out at the Congress and the RJD when they projected opposition parties’ joint candidate for the presidential poll Meira Kumar as ‘Bihar ki beti’ and asked him to reconsider his support to Kovind.
Kumar had said the former Lok Sabha speaker was bound to lose to Kovind due to the NDA’s numerical dominance and if they were sincere, then they should have projected her in 2012 when they had the required numbers. Some second rung RJD leaders took swipes at Kumar and things came to a head when Azad made a jibe, saying those with one principle take one decision and those with many take different decisions. In retaliatory fire, Tyagi had yesterday wondered if the Congress wanted to shorten the alliance’s life and recalled his party’s “natural” ties with the BJP before Kumar decided to snap the alliance on ideological grounds.
There is a consensus in the opposition camp that the government in Bihar, among the two big states which are under the rule of regional parties seen firmly opposed to the BJP, cannot be allowed to unravel at a time when the saffron party is on a march, winning over one state after another. The TMC-ruled West Bengal is seen as another anti-BJP bastion at a time when all other regional parties in power in states have supported the Union government on a host of issues.