Other States

Nitish is chief ministerial candidate for Bihar polls

Nitish Kumar will be the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Janata Dal (United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal combine in Bihar, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav announced on Monday, resolving a major irritant in the alliance between the two parties to take on the BJP in coming Assembly elections in the state.

“I am very happy about the unity of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. Mr. Kumar will be the chief ministerial candidate for Bihar. Laluji has proposed Nitish Kumar’s name for the chief ministership. Laluji said he will campaign.

“There are no differences and we will not allow any differences to crop up,” Mr. Yadav said while declaring that they would fight together to root out “communal forces“.

A day after the two parties agreed to fight the Assembly polls in an alliance, Mr. Yadav disclosed at a press conference here which was also attended by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, that Mr. Prasad proposed Mr. Kumar’s name for the top job in the state.

Breaking his silence on the issue, Mr. Prasad said he cannot contest election himself and there was no other CM contender from his family or party.

“There are no differences between us (between him and Kumar),” he said, downplaying earlier remarks of some RJD leaders expressing discomfiture over projecting Mr. Kumar as CM candidate.

The coming together of the once-bitter rivals is seen as a compulsion for the Janata Parivar, which lost badly in last year’s Lok Sabha elections in which BJP won out of 40 seats in Bihar.

That he had to accept Mr. Kumar as CM candidate of the alliance under compulsion was evident when Mr. Prasad said, “I am ready to consume all kinds of poison.”

“But we will crush this cobra of communalism. We will destroy them unitedly. We will wipe out the BJP from Bihar.”

Rejecting speculation about the BJP egging on him not to tie up with JD(U), Mr. Prasad said his identity in politics was due to “crushing the communal forces“.

Holding that “communal forces” occupied the seat of power in Delhi because of “division in forces of social justice,” Mr. Prasad, who had ordered the arrest of BJP leader L.K. Advani in 1990 at the peak of the Ayodhya movemnent, said that incident started “Mandal versus Kamandal politics“.

Mr. Prasad said he was repeatedly targeted by the BJP after that.

“I and Nitish belong to the same family. We had our share of fights and differences and we had also levelled allegations against each other. But, despite that, when the JD(U) was divided at the time of polls for Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar, I had called up Nitish Kumar in order stop the BJP. I supported him to check these forces,” Mr. Prasad said.

Noting that there were some “illusions” in the mind of people, he said,”I want to clear those illusions. Lalu cannot contest elections. I am not a candidate (for CMship). Nobody from my family, my wife, or my children is interested in it. They (his children) are quite young. There was no candidate from our side (party), nor was any from my family.

“But the communal elements speak through the media. All kinds of rumours are being spread. They are saying we cannot come together. I thank Mulayam ji that he made the announcement that Nitish Kumar will be our CM candidate,” the RJD chief said.

Downplaying remarks of some of his party leaders including vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who was against projecting Mr. Kumar as CM candidate as merely an “opinion”, Prasad said,”anybody can give an opinion but the decision is taken here.”

He also appealed to workers and leaders of both parties to “control” their speech and took a dig at leaders like Prem Chand Gupta from his party and K.C. Tyagi from JD(U) while asking media to verify their “off-record” statements from either him or JD(U) president Sharad Yadav.

Mr. Prasad’s remarks came in the backdrop of sparring between leaders of the two parties a number of times in the last few days over the issue of alliance, particularly its chief ministerial face.

The RJD chief said that issue has come to an end now expressed confidence that seat-sharing would also be done amicably.

“When hearts have met, we will sort out the issue of seats as well. I appeal to all leaders of my party from Bihar like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagadanand Singh and Abdul Bari Siddiqui to accept what Mulayam Singh Yadav ji has said here. They will accept,” Mr. Prasad said.

Without naming his erstwhile ally Ram Vilas Paswan, who is now a minister in the NDA government, Mr. Prasad said, “Even an insignifcant person, who is now an NDA ally, was saying that they (JD(U) and RJD) cannot come together.”

There was intense speculation about Mr. Prasad cosying up to former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who broke away from Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and formed his own party Hindustani Awam Morcha. Prasad had even openly invited Manjhi to join the proposed broader secular coalition against BJP in Bihar.

The RJD chief, however, made it clear on Monday that his party will not have any truck with him, saying “Jitan Ram Manjhi told me that I should topple Nitish and they will accept me as leader. I am not going to fall into that trap.”

Referring to the statement of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj on the Ram temple issue, he said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks something else, the “communal elements” from his party say something different.

Asserting that he “does not require a certificate” from anybody on his secular credentials, he said, “when I was fighting for Mandal Commission in Bihar, Advani ji had come with a Kamandal.

“It is because I am a victim of persecution by communal forces that I am still on the street. I do not need to take a certificate of secularism from anybody else,” he said.

Responding to a question on whether the proposed “secular alliance” will also have Congress and NCP, the RJD chief said he had worked for the victory of NCP and Congress candidates in the past and hoped that all, including the Left, will come together.

In Patna, Nitish Kumar said Congress is very much part of the plan to firm up a broad alliance comprising the JD(U) and RJD among others for the assembly polls.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 3:26:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bihar-assembly-elections-lalu-proposes-nitish-as-bihar-cm-candidate-says-mulayam-singh/article7294475.ece

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