Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad on Sunday said he would decide on extending support to JD(U) in the Rajya Sabha by-elections only after consulting his party legislators and well-wishers.
“Nitish Kumar had telephoned me yesterday (Saturday) to seek support for the two JD(U) candidates in the Rajya Sabha polls on June 19. I’ll seek the opinion of RJD legislators and well-wishers over the issue and then take a decision,” Mr. Prasad said.
JD(U) has fielded two candidates — senior leader Ghulam Rasool Baliyawi and diplomat-turned-politician Pawan Kumar Varma — for the RS polls.
Its dissident MLAs, claiming to be around 50, have put up business tycoon Sabir Ali and real estate baron Anil Sharma as their candidates against the official ones.
The support of 21 RJD MLAs becomes crucial for JD(U) to sail through and in this context Nitish Kumar had appealed to RJD, Congress and CPI to extend their support in the polls.
In a House of 243, with an effective strength of 232 because of 11 vacancies, the ruling party needs 51 per cent votes for victory of its candidates.
The JD(U) has 117 MLAs, including Speaker, BJP 84, RJD 21, Congress 4, CPI 1 and Independents 5.
With a large number of RJD legislators turning rebels and supporting Independents along with BJP, the vote of 21 RJD MLAs holds the key to the result.
Mr. Prasad pointed out that all was not well in Mr. Kumar’s party. “JD(U) MLAs have set their own house on fire and Nitish Kumar is now looking for fire brigade. What else could be said about the situation,” he remarked about the party that has been at loggerheads with him till the recent Lok Sabha polls.
Visits ailing children
The RJD chief left for Muzaffarpur in the afternoon to see kids suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and said the health of children was his top priority instead of politics.
Mr. Prasad said the ailing children should be sent to Delhi by train for better treatment.
“So many of our children are dying and nothing is being done to save them. They should be sent to New Delhi by trains as there is a dearth of treatment facilities in the state,” he said.