Patna: The Rashtriya Janata Dal wants Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to lead the socialist-strain of political outfits in the absence of an acceptable towering leader among all the opposition parties in the country.
With RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav in jail, senior RJD senior leader Shivanand Tiwari has recently made clear overtures to Kumar to come forward and lead the opposition, which is in disarray after the Lok Sabha polls.
Tiwari said the Janata Dal United (JDU) is committing a historic political blunder by remaining part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar as well as at the Centre.
The RJD leader argued that since there was no credible opposition at the Centre these days, Kumar should come to national politics and unite all opposition parties as he had all along maintained his secular image.
“There is a leadership vacuum in the opposition rank. I have watched Nitish Kumar in politics for nearly 35 years and I can vouch that he has the political guts and capability to become the Prime Minister of the country. He should throw the NDA yoke and become the opposition face at the national level,” Tiwari said.
The Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, too, has advised Kumar to walk out of the NDA and work on an alternative platform. “It is high time that all like-minded leaders should come forward and provide an alternative to the present dispensation,” Manjhi said.
Such overtures are being considered as an open invitation to the JD(U) chief to join hands with the RJD once again before the 2020 assembly elections and cobble up an alliance of like-minded opposition parties.
Kumar had fought the Bihar assembly elections in alliance with the RJD and the Congress in 2015 assembly polls and formed the government.
The RJD is mulling over such possibilities due to perceived disenchantment of party leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav with politics and his reluctance to lead the party as well as the opposition. He has been conspicuous by his absence since the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha election, where the RJD had for the first time drawn a blank.
Tejashwi has conveyed his feelings to his family members, including to Lalu Yadav that he would brook no interference of his elder sister Misa Bharti, MP, and elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, MLA, in party affairs if he were to lead the party.
Tejashwi also wants to get rid of the legal wrangles over possession of property allegedly earned through shell companies and the IRCTC scam that surfaced when his father was the railway minister. He wants to come out clean on these cases before starting a fresh inning in politics. There have been speculations that Tejashwi has deliberately scaled down attacks on the NDA to get some relief in the cases lodged against him.
Senior RJD leaders too are mulling over getting rid of Lalu’s scions. Some of them have even proposed to elect or nominate a working president to run the party and hold political negotiations with the allies in the absence of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Against this backdrop, it appears that stage is being set for a churning in the opposition camp with Nitish Kumar as the main protagonist before the assembly polls in some states next year.
On its part, the JDU has already opposed the Triple Talaq Bill and Article 370 in both the houses of Parliament. The party has diametrically opposite stand on uniform civil code and Ram Mandir and wants the two issues to be settled either through court verdict or consensus among the stakeholders.
Though JDU is part of NDA at the Centre and in Bihar, it has decided to contest elections in four states of Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir individually to increase the number of votes polled in parliamentary and legislative elections so that it could attain the status of a national party by 2020. At present, the JDU is now recognized party in Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh.
A wily politician, Nitish has begun the exercise to expand his horizon beyond Bihar - at least in Hindi heartland and north-eastern states. He is attempting to draw a bigger line than the present regional leaders like Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Mamata Bannerjee and Navin Patnaik.