BY MANOJ PATHAK
Patna: All political parties in Bihar are now gearing up for the assembly elections likely to be held later this year. However, fissures in the opposition grand alliance seem to have widened over who will be the chief minister’s face in the elections.
The leaders of the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) are now openly blaming the RJD’s dictatorial attitude for this. The same leaders however also say that if Lalu Prasad had been around, this problem would not have arisen.
Tejashwi Yadav, the leader of the RJD and younger son of Lalu Prasad, has been declared the chief ministerial candidate, but Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has clearly stated that Tejashwi Yadav is not the leader of the grand alliance.
Meanwhile, leaders of smaller parties in the mahagathbandhan — Manjhi, Upendra Kushwaha, the head of the National Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and Mukesh Sahani, the chief of the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) — have met twice in the last few days and demanded the formation of a coordination committee to sort out issues, but the RJD is adamant.
Many leaders of the mahagathbandhan, on the condition of anonymity, say that the RJD has been taking decisions unilaterally without taking into confidence other members of the alliance. They say Manjhi has lodged protests several times about this and has said that Tejashwi Yadav does not attach any importance to anyone in the grand alliance.
HAM’s spokesperson Danish Rizwan said, “The Coordination Committee will decide on the Chief Minister’s face. It is because of some RJD leaders that the committee has not yet been formed in the grand alliance. Who will be the face of the grand alliance in the assembly elections will be decided in the coordination committee itself.”
Without taking the name of Tejashwi Yadav, Rizwan said that if there is a rift in the grand alliance it is due to some senior leaders of the RJD. He however also said that if Lalu Prasad were around, this situation would not have arisen.
Sources say that some of the smaller parties are in touch with senior leaders of the Congress. They may form a separate front, if their voices in the mahagathbandhan are not heard.
Sources also say that these leaders are talking to Jan Adhikar Party chief Pappu Yadav, the Left parties and the Vanchit Samaj Party.
Lalit Mohan Singh, vice-chairman of the Vanchit Samaj Party, admitted that many smaller parties are in touch with him and they may come together under one umbrella for the elections in Bihar, if the situation so demands.
The Congress, however, has denied any rift in the grand alliance. Former Youth Congress president Lallan Kumar said that the grand alliance is united. He admitted that the BJP-JDU alliance would be benefited if a break up takes place and said that everyone needs to remain united for a bigger cause.
The RJD also denied any rift in the mahagathbandhan. RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said, “Everything will be settled when time comes. The RJD has announced the name of Tejashwi Yadav as the Chief Minister candidate of the opposition, as he is the leader of the largest party of the grand alliance.”
When asked about the meeting of three parties of the grand alliance, he said in an election year parties keep on meeting. On the question of forming a coordination committee, Tiwari said that the alliance has been taking decisions collectively, that is why Manjhi’s son was sent to the Legislative Council.