Neena Vyas

Janata Dal (U) was annoyed that BJP was drawing its leaders into its fold

JD(U) had warned that it could pay BJP back in its own coin

It “agrees” to bale out BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidates in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh has smoked the peace pipe with Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav after a month-long tension during which the two parties virtually stopped talking to each other.

In fact, the JD(U) boycotted the informal daily National Democratic Alliance leaders’ meetings in the last 20 days of the first part of the budget session in March.

The thaw came two nights ago when Mr. Yadav reportedly agreed that his party would try to bale out the BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidates in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.

The trouble began after the BJP poached on the JD(U) in Karnataka and Rajasthan. Vasavraj Bommai, former JD(U) chief S.R. Bommai’s son, joined the BJP, much to the annoyance of the JD(U) central leadership. And if this was not bad enough, the BJP successfully weaned away Gopal Pacherwal, JD(U) president in Rajasthan.

It is learnt that Mr. Yadav took the issue strongly with the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani, just days before the budget was presented.

The JD (U) had apparently warned that it could pay the BJP back in its own coin in Bihar and in Jharkhand where a number of the party’s legislators were keen to join the JD (U). However, matters did not come to a head because senior BJP leaders admitted that it was a “mistake” on the part of the BJP to entertain or wean away members of its allies.

It seems that though an assurance was given that a similar “mistake” would not be repeated, the JD(U) has decided to stop attending the NDA leaders’ informal meeting normally held every day before the start of the session. Due to this, the BJP reportedly stopped calling the meetings during the last 20 days of the session.

RSS resolution

To make matters worse, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, at its annual Pratinidhi Sabha in Vrindavan earlier this month, adopted a resolution condemning the “minorityism” of the Centre and some State governments in which it bunched Bihar along with that of Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The RSS expressed “surprise” at the “eagerness” of the Nitish Kumar government in “reopening” the “age-old Bhagalpur cases” and “publicly calling for death sentence” for the accused.

This was apparently discussed with Mr. Kumar, as was the issue of the Bihar government appointing Professor R.S. Sharma on the selection committee of vice-chancellors. He is the author of the Ancient India history textbook of the NCERT that was removed from the syllabus by the NDA government.

Professor Sharma was hounded by the RSS and its many affiliates for writing that beef-eating was not forbidden to Hindus during the Vedic period.

Although the JD(U) leaders are not yet willing to go public on some of these issues, privately they point out that the BJP knows only too well what some of their allies think about Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. They have expressed surprise over Mr. Advani’s suggestion at this juncture before the Lok Sabha election that Mr. Modi would be his successor in the party.

Assembly elections

The JD(U) contested independently in the last two Gujarat Assembly polls, winning two seats in 2002 and one in 2007. “We do not have to say anything about Mr. Modi. We fought against him,” said a senior JD(U) leader.