JD (U) exploring third front with Mamata, Naveen

A day after reversing his decision to resign, senior BJP leader L. K. Advani picked up the phone to ask Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar not to act in haste while deciding on the JD (U)’s electoral alliance with the BJP.

The move came amid talk that Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee are exploring an alternative front to the UPA as well as the NDA and have made overtures to the JD (U), which is unhappy over the BJP’s decision to hand over its campaign baton to Mr. Modi.

A conclave of JD (U) here in the second week of April had made it clear that it has no option but to walk out of the NDA if Mr. Modi is projected as the BJP’s best bet to take on the UPA in 2014.

The JD (U), which banks on the support of minorities in Bihar, is alarmed at last week’s turn of events in the BJP when the RSS overruled the party patriarch to impose Mr. Modi. Senior JD (U) leaders are convinced that it would be a matter of time before Mr. Modi is formally named as the party’s prime ministerial candidate and it would be politically suicidal for the party to continue its electoral alliance with the BJP.

What has made matters worse for the JD (U) leaders including the Bihar Chief Minister is the strident campaign by the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav attacking them for aligning with a ‘communal’ party like the BJP. The recent victory of Mr. Yadav’s party in the Maharajgunj assembly constituency is seen as a sign of things to come. “The best way to cut our losses is to snap ties with the BJP and explore others options including a possible alliance with the Congress,” a senior leader of the party said.

BJP leaders said the party will not take any step that would precipitate the situation.

Asked about the status of the BJP-JD (U) alliance, the BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, “10.5 crore people and 21 crore eyes of Bihar are looking at this alliance with hope. The voters of Bihar had not voted for any one party or leader but for the JD (U)-BJP alliance.”

But senior JD(U) leader Shivanand Tewari on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Mr. Modi, terming him a “divisive personality” and ridiculing his proposal to build the proposed ‘Statue of Unity’ in memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Meanwhile, in a damage control exercise, the RSS said that it was not interfering or managing the affairs of the right-wing party.

“When a senior person of the stature of L. K. Advani needed to be given some advice, naturally some senior people in the country and society will give him advice ,” said RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav. “Do you mean to say that everybody giving advice to Advani was interfering in the affairs of the BJP?”

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