Sharad Yadav can take a walk, said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today, implying he will make minimal effort to placate his sulking partner.
“He is free to go where he wants,” said the Chief Minister, who was in Delhi today and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. This was their first in-person interaction since Mr Kumar dramatically reconfigured his government in Bihar to include the BJP.
His recasting of allies – he junked Lalu Yadav and the Congress to hook up with the BJP – has not gone down well with Mr Yadav, who was neither consulted nor informed about Mr Kumar’s partner-swapping before his public announcement late last month.
“The party has made a decision. He (Sharad Yadav) should accept it,” the Chief Minister said today.
Mr Yadav refused to attend the oath-taking ceremony which saw Mr Kumar being re-inducted as head of the state, but this time with the BJP in tow. He has since issued daily recriminations, alleging that Mr Kumar has betrayed the people of Bihar, who, in 2015, voted for the Mahagathbandhan or “Grand Alliance” of his Janata Dal (United) or JD-U, the Congress, and Lalu Yadav.
Mr Yadav was warned yesterday by the JD-U to watch his language. After launching a three-day tour of Bihar to gauge the public mood, Mr Yadav said that the Chief Minister runs a “sarkari” version of his party, while the real JD-U is to be found in the masses. The implication was that Mr Kumar has abandoned his commitment to the people in lust of power with an unsuitable partner who he had previously attacked.
“The political language being used by him is very objectionable and uncomfortable for the party president (Nitish Kumar) and the government (of Bihar). We will ask him to refrain from making statement which crosses limits,” said KC Tyagi, a senior leader of the JD-U.
Mr Yadav has declared that he remains committed to a front of 17 parties that are trying to work together to fight the BJP in parliament and to prevent PM Modi’s re-election in 2019. Mr Kumar exited that front – one that he helped establish in April – with his switchover to the BJP, alleging that the opposition is floundering in establishing a real alternative to the PM and his party. He blamed a corruption case against Lalu Yadav and his son, Tejashwi, who was Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, for vitiating the atmosphere in the state to an extent “where it was impossible to work.”
Mr Kumar and Mr Yadav, who co-run the JD-U, were part of the BJP’s national coalition till 2013. When the party picked then Chief Minister Modi as its presumptive prime minister, Mr Kumar ended the 17-year partnership, but was walloped in the general election, winning just two of Bihar’s 40 parliamentary seats.
The JDU’s top decision-making body, its national executive, will meet on the 19th in Patna. The party has said it hopes Mr Yadav will use that forum -and not public meetings – to offer his critique. It’s unlikely that Mr Yadav will show up. He has confirmed that on the 27th, he will participate in a rally in Patna that has been organised by Lalu Yadav to highlight the alleged failures of PM Modi and his policies. Top opposition leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee are expected at the event.