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Ailing Lalu Prasad Intervenes to Resolve Rift Within Ruling Mahagathbandhan in Bihar

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who is currently in Singapore after a kidney transplant, intervened to resolve the issue; widely seen as smooth running of Mahagathbandhan before 2024 LS elections

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Patna: Amid reports of a growing rift in ruling Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, none other than ailing Rashtriya Jana Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, who is currently abroad(in Singapore) after a kidney transplant, intervened to resolve the issue. It is widely seen here as a significant political development for the smooth running of the Mahagathbandhan-led government ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state.

Till Tuesday, a war of words between leaders of major coalition partner RJD and Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) created an impression in public that one after another differences cropped up within the Mahagathbandhan. This has exposed the lack of coordination to run the trouble-free coalition.

In a bid to send a strong message necessary for the stability of Mahagathbandhan, RJD has issued a show cause notice to its party MLA Sudhakar Singh, for statements insulting and attacking Chief Minister Nitish Kumar repeatedly in recent days. RJD in its notice to Singh, a former minister, said that his acts have hurt the party and warned him of disciplinary action.

Singh was asked to respond within 15 days about why disciplinary action should not be initiated against him by the party's high command.

“The notice to Singh was issued on the directive of Lalu Prasad, who was sad and pained after he came to know about statements against CM Kumar,” RJD national General secretary Abdul Bari Siddiqui told NewsClick on Wednesday.

Siddiqui said that last year it was authorised by the party that only Laluji and RJD leader and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav speak on alliance issues. But Singh has violated this and given strength to forces(BJP) trying to trample the Constitution and destroy equality and harmony. Singh is not above the constitution of RJD and he should follow it.”

In Early January, Singh's remark against Kumar triggered a new controversy within the Mahagathbandhan. Singh linked Kumar to "Shikhandi" (a character of mythology Mahabharata), soon after that demands were raised from Nitish Kumar's party JD-U, RJD and a key ally Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) to take action against Singh to ensure the stability of the Mahagathbandhan in the state.

Then none other than Kumar said he hardly takes notice of such abusive language against him, but RJD should note what its leaders have been saying. It is an internal matter of RJD, Nitish Kumar further said.

Later, several senior JD-U leaders directly demanded Tejashwi take notice of it and act against him.

In absence of Lalu, Tejashwi, who works as the de facto chief of the party, last week termed Singh as a BJP agent as his statements were helping the saffron party.

“But after the latest rift surfaced over JD-U leaders demanded Tejashwi to take action against his party leader and Bihar Education Minister Chandrashekhar, who had made a statement that the Hindu epic poem 'Ramcharitmanas' spread hatred. Laluji intervened to take care of Singh, who angered JD-U by directly attacking Kumar,” another senior RJD leader told NewClick.

Singh, who happens to be the son of RJD state president Jagdanand Singh, is a known critic of Nitish Kumar, that had cost his cabinet(minister) post in early October last year. Sudhakar Singh is a first-term MLA from Ramgarh in the Kaimur district. Soon after being made Bihar's Agriculture Minister in August 2022, Sudhakar Singh repeatedly targeted Nitish Kumar and alleged rampant corruption in the agriculture department.

Besides, Sudhakar Singh raised the failure of much-hyped agriculture road maps, a brainchild of Nitish Kumar. He announced that he would try to restore the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act and the 'mandi' system for farmers scrapped in 2006 by the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government.

All this embarrassed Nitish Kumar, and he had reportedly asked his ally RJD to direct Sudhakar Singh to resign last year.

Political watchers here said that RJD has hinted that it is in mode to take action against party leaders to save Mahagathbandhan to fight against BJP. After Singh, the next notice may be issued against Chandra Sekhar in connection with the Ramcharitmanas controversy, they pointed out.

Chandrashekhar, a senior RJD leader, last week sparked the row during his speech at the convocation of Patna-based Nalanda Open University. He claimed that religious texts like 'Ramacharitmanas' spread hatred just as 'Manusmriti' and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue MS Golwalkar’s ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ created a social divide.

Despite being slammed by ally JD-U leaders and facing flack from the opposition BJP, whose leaders repeatedly demanded his apology and removal from his ministerial post, Chandra Shekhar repeatedly said that his statement was based on facts and there was no question of making an apology.

Tejashwi on Monday played down the JD-U leader's demand of action against Chandrashekhar and made it clear that one should not demean any other religion as it was against the Constitution that respects all religions. He cautioned his party leaders, workers and people to be aware of the opposition BJP’s conspiracies to defame Mahagathbandhan. It is well-known fact that BJP is cunningly trying to divert the political discourse towards a Hindu-Muslim issue.

However, Kumar on Tuesday broke his silence on the ongoing controversy that was triggered by Chandrasekhar’s statement, saying that the government’s stand is clear that there should not be any interference with any religion and one should not demean any religion. “There is nothing in it as the deputy chief minister had also spoken about it,” Kumar told media here.

On Wednesday Kumar reportedly said in Buxar during his ongoing Samadhan Yatra that he had spoken with Chandrasekhar and he will take back his statement on Ramcharitmanas soon.

Since last week Kumar’s JD-U leaders including ministers and party spokesperson have been aggressively targeting Chandrasekhar and demanding RJD act against him. The first senior JD-U leader Ashok Choudhary, who is a Minister in Bihar, opposed his statement and claimed that such a thing has been creating an anti-Hindu image of the ruling parties of the Mahagathbandhan, which is far from the truth.

Several senior BJP leaders including Union Ministers Giriraj Singh, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, Nityanad Rai, Bihar leader of opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha, state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi repeatedly condemned and attacked Chandrashekhar during the last one week.

Apart from BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini workers have protested against Chandrashekhar and threatened to intensify the protest if action is not taken against him.

To date, more than half a dozen cases were filed against Chandrashekhar in different courts in the state in connection with his statement.

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