Amid political churn in Bihar, Assembly Speaker calls on Lalu

The development came close on the heels of CM Nitish Kumar taking over as the national president of JD(U), following the resignation of his trusted aide Lalan

Published - January 01, 2024 03:27 am IST - Patna

Bihar Assembly Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary on Sunday called on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad. File photo

Bihar Assembly Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary on Sunday called on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad. File photo | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

Bihar Assembly Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary on Sunday called on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad, at a time when the State was witnessing a big political churn.

Mr. Chaudhary, who himself belongs to the RJD, met the party supremo at the official residence of the latter's wife and former CM Rabri Devi. Mr. Prasad's elder son and Minister Tej Pratap Yadav, who stays in a different house, had accompanied the Speaker during the visit.

After the meeting, Mr. Chaudhary told reporters, “I had met Lalu ji to extend greetings on the eve of the New Year. There was nothing political about it.” The development came close on the heels of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar taking over as the national president of Janata Dal (United), following the resignation of his trusted aide Rajiv Ranjan Singh “Lalan”.

There had been speculations that Mr. Lalan had grown too close to Mr. Prasad which had made Mr. Kumar, the JD(U)'s supreme leader, uncomfortable. However, in a gesture that appeared to be aimed at dispelling such speculations, Mr. Kumar took Mr. Lalan along when he received a rousing welcome here from the JD(U) cadre upon return from Delhi on Friday night.

Mr. Lalan has also threatened to sue media organisations that had carried reports alleging that he held a meeting of JD(U) MLAs here, at the behest of the RJD, to plot the dethroning of Mr. Kumar. The reports had suggested that the alleged plan was aimed at the elevation of Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, the RJD supremo's younger son and heir apparent.

Interestingly, Mr. Kumar has on more than one occasion expressed his intent to pass over the mantle to the young RJD leader, and made it clear that the latter will be leading the ruling Mahagathbandhan in the next Assembly election in 2025.

Notably, the day also saw Mr. Kumar visiting a private hospital here to meet Shivanand Tiwary, an old associate who has nonetheless been closer to Mr. Prasad and is a national vice-president of the RJD.

Mr. Lalan was away in his Lok Sabha constituency of Munger, where he told a public meeting "not to be swayed by rumours of BJP-inclined media".

"There is no mistrust between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad. The Mahagathbandhan is going to inflict a crushing defeat on the BJP in the Lok Sabha election," he claimed.

The former JD(U) president had also told a news channel after giving up the post that it was his own desire "because of my preoccupation with my constituency ahead of the Lok Sabha electioni" to give up the party post.

Mr. Lalan had also dismissed suggestions that Mr. Kumar had softened his stance towards the BJP-led NDA, pointing out the "highly critical" political resolution adopted at the JD(U) national executive which lambasted the Narendra Modi government for en masse suspension of MPs and accused it of trying to "run the country as per the Manusmriti, in place of Constitution".

Meanwhile, there seems to be confusion in the NDA camp in Bihar about the current turn of events. BJP allies like Upendra Kushwaha, who quit JD(U) about a year ago to float his own party, and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who joined the NDA to escape pressure from Mr. Kumar to merge his Hindustani Awam Morcha with JD(U), claimed that the Chief Minister was "regretting" having joined hands with Mr. Prasad, his arch-rival.

Mr. Manjhi claimed that Mr. Kumar was "in touch with many BJP leaders" and could make a volte-face, while Mr. Kushwaha has been of the view that even if the JD(U) supremo desired a comeback, he would not get a re-entry since he was being seen as a spent force.

BJP leaders like Union Minister Giriaj Singh and State president Samrat Choudhary were of the view that the Mahagathbandhan government could fall any time because of internal contradictions, though, as of now, the saffron party would not go for yet another tie-up with Mr. Kumar.

They claimed that the BJP was now in a position to get a majority on its own whenever Assembly election is held in the State.

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