JD(U) split looms large, Sharad unrelenting

Arun Srivastava

Despite threats of stringent actions, Nitish Kumar has failed to domesticate the rebel JD(U) leaders, who are  going ahead with their plan to hold their national conference on March 11 in Delhi.
The rebels led by Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar, both MPs, have already announced the constitution of their Bihar state committee, which will be headed by senior dalit leader Ramai Ram. He was a minister in Nitish government.   
The day Nitish parted company with the grand alliance and decided to go back to the BJP fold, the JD(U) stood vertically split, but the formal division of the Bihar unit will happen on November 3. 
Ali Anwar was quite candid in his observation that the party rank and file are unlikely to distance themselves from the parent body, although they fully support Sharad Yadav’s political line. No doubt by virtue of being the chief minister, Nitish has been enjoying the support and loyalty of a section of the  leaders, MLAs and MPs but the fact of the matter is they do not endorse his decisions and actions.
The leaders supporting Nitish are, however, concerned about the loss of the popular mass appeal of the chief minister. They are also skeptical of the future of the government. They cite the recent distancing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Nitish as an indication of the  uncertainty looming over the future of the NDA government in Bihar.
The rebel leaders are not sure of getting a fair and honest treatment at the hands of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and the Election Commission in the matter of recognition of the party, but they are ebullient of the wide-ranging support across the party line. At the last week’s meeting of the Maharashtra unit of the party the entire office bearers were present and they endorsed the political line moved by Sharad, who would once again undertake a yatra (journey) across the state to speak to the voters.
Meanwhile, the JD(U) will make Prohibition an issue to embarrass Nitish and show to the people that he was playing gimmicks. The JD(U) will organize public meetings at the district levels to apprise the people of the real face of Niish.
Interestingly, RJD president Lalu Prasad had already branded Prohibition in Bihar as a "big failure" and claimed that liquor was now being delivered at homes. Incidentally, a week ago, four persons died after consuming spurious liquor while two others fell ill in Rohtas district.
He also accused the police of getting "malamaal", making quick money as truckloads of liquor were frequently coming to the state. He said spurious liquor was being sold to areas where there was supply shortage. A ban on sale and consumption of alcohol was imposed in Bihar in April last year.
Barely a fortnight before becoming the deputy of the chief minister, BJP leader Sushil Modi had alleged that the enforcement of liquor ban had totally failed in Bihar. He also blamed the Nitish government for lacking the will to do enforce the ban despite enjoying the support of the people and the opposition parties on the issue. But now the same Modi is busy protecting Nitish. Now in the prevailing situation Modi will have to speak out on how the liquor mafia enjoys the patronage of the chief minister.
In fact the rebel JD(U) leaders have asked Nitish to clarify his relations with the mafia. A senior JD(U) leader pointed out that even a legislator had to seek appointment for meeting the Chief Minister. But it is not clear how could a liquor mafia leader enter his residence and share the seat with him. Obviously it speaks a lot.   
Rakesh Singh, president of the JD(U)’s Udwantnagar block unit in Bhojpur district, was photographed with Nitish when the CM felicitated retired Ara school headmaster Harindra Singh at his official residence on Sunday for returning the Rs 4 lakh he had received as dowry for his son’s marriage.
Rakesh was chargesheeted in a case of spurious liquor tragedy, in which 29 people lost their lives in Ara in December 2012. He was in jail for two years and is currently on bail. In Bhojpur, Rakesh was known as a ‘dabbang’ (heavyweight) politician with enviable access to the corridors power in Patna. It was apparently to show off his clout that Rakesh posted photographs with the CM on his Facebook page, which later went viral.
Former deputy CM and RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav asked how could a liquor tragedy accused enter the drawing room at the CM’s residence, where even ministers cannot reach. “How did a chargesheeted liquor mafia man continue to be the block president of JD (U)?” he asked.
Tejashwi, the leader of Opposition in the state assembly, sought to know from the CM how many JD (U) members were booked for violation of liquor laws in the state. The clout of the smugglers and illegal traders could be gauged from the fact that they instigated the people to refuse to pay   collective fine in Aurangabad, Gaya, Nalanda, Khagaria, West Champaran, Gopalganj and Saran districts in the wake of death of more than 50 people due to consumption of illicit liquor.
With the liquor ban gasping for breath in Bihar, Modi had alleged that the State government had made an expenditure of Rs. 600 crore for the purchase of equipment like baggage scanner, digital locater, trolley fitted with liquor analysis kit, full body truck scanner etc for strict enforcement of Prohibition. In August last year, Nitish Kumar had described his move to impose a blanket ban on the consumption and possession of alcohol as “transformational”. (IPA)

Sunday, 5 November, 2017