Bihar polls: JD(U), RJD at war over chief ministerial choice
Patna: War of words escalated between the Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) with the two sides hardening their stand on their respective terms of clinching a 'secular alliance' for the upcoming Assembly polls in Bihar.
The ruling JD(U) yesterday made it clear that it will not compromise on the issue of projecting incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the next chief ministerial choice in the elections.
"JD(U) will not make any compromise over the leadership issue of the alliance. Nitish Kumar will be the chief ministerial candidate of our alliance in the upcoming polls," Vashishth Narayan Singh, party's state unit chief, said.
Singh's reaction came in the wake of RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh's statement that his party did not favour Nitish as the putative alliance's chief ministerial candidate.
He also reiterated that there was no need to project Nitish as the CM choice as there were enough competent leaders in the RJD who could make for a good CM. He said, "There are so many personalities in RJD who can become a good chief minister."
The JD(U) retorted instantly to this with senior minister Shyam Rajak, also a close associate of Nitish, saying, "By making such assertions, Singh seems to be on the BJP payroll. Making statements like this will ultimately to benefit the BJP."
"Nitish is the obvious face of development in Bihar. Lalu has already blessed Nitish for his leadership," Rajak added.
It should also be noted that the Congress and the NCP have said that they will be backing Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate. The Congress, by projecting Nitish a secular and progressive image, wants to support at the head of a 'secular alliance' to defeat the BJP. The NCP is all for JD(U).
The Congress and NCP support has given an advantage to Nitish vis-a-vis RJD's Lalu Prasad Yadav.
This has put pressure on Lalu to take a call - either to accept Nitish as the leader of a common alliance or go it alone.
Last week, the tussle over seat-sharing between the two Bihar-centric parties took a bitter route with RJD staking claim to 145 out of total 243 seats - a demand rejected with disdain by Nitish.
JD(U) had won 117 seats in the 2010 polls in alliance with BJP while RJD was confined to 24 seats at that time.
Meanwhile, the BJP has ruled out any possibility of an alliance with the JD(U) saying the 'door is shut' for the Bihar Chief Minister. "Any alliance with Nitish Kumar is totally ruled out. The door is shut with a capital lock," Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters yesterday.