Six of 13 MLAs issue denials

The Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal suffered a huge blow on Monday after six of its 22 MLAs broke away from the party and announced that they would join the ruling Janata Dal (United).

A list of 13 MLAs, who wished to withdraw allegiance to the RJD, was given to the Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary on February 14. On Monday, their request to form a separate group in the Assembly was approved by the Speaker.

The list of 13 MLAs included Samrat Chaudhary, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Akhtar-ul-Islam Sahin, Ram Lakhan Ram Raman, Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Lalit Yadav, Durga Prasad Singh, Jeetendra Rai, Abdul Gafoor, Faiyazz Ahmed, Anirudh Kumar, Chandrasekhar and Akhtar-ul-Iman.

But crying foul, seven of them, Mr. Sahin, Mr. Yadav, Mr. Chandrasekhar, Mr. Gafoor, Mr. Ahmed, Mr. Durga Prasad Singh and Mr. Raman denied signing any such letter. Alleging a conspiracy, they said their signatures on the document were forged.

“The 13 MLAs gave a joint letter expressing their wish to form a separate group and join the JD (U). I received their letter at the start of the Assembly session. I studied it and accepted their resignations today. They have already formed a group of their own,” the Speaker told The Hindu.

The split in the RJD is a shot in the arm of the Nitish Kumar government. In the 243-member Assembly, the JD (U) has 116 MLAs, six short of the majority. The government is running on the support of four Congress MLAs, four independents and one from the CPI. With the six RJD MLAs, the JD (U) will touch the majority mark of 122.

The crisis in the RJD was chiefly fuelled by MLAs being upset over the seat-sharing talks with the Congress, rebel MLA Mr. Ansari told The Hindu. He said a section of the party was upset with party chief Lalu Prasad for pandering to the Congress at the cost of the party. “Mr. Prasad was known as the champion of secularism, but today he can’t see beyond the Congress. In the current situation only Nitish Kumar is capable of leading the fight for secularism,” Mr. Ansari said.

Rebel leader Samrat Chaudhary said the RJD had become a “B team” of the Congress.