Sharad stands by Grand Alliance – The Telegraph

Sharad Yadav addresses the media at Patna airport on Thursday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Patna, Aug. 10: JDU veteran Sharad Yadav today left nobody in doubt on his stand over chief minister Nitish Kumar’s tie-up with the BJP.

“The mandate given by 11 crore people of Bihar has been betrayed,” he said soon after landing in Patna.

“This is the first time in 70 years when two parties who fought polls on two different manifestos have merged within the five-year tenure. I am standing with the Mahagathbandhan and will go to the people to get feedback,” he added.

RJD supporters had gathered at the airport and were raising slogans in favour of Sharad and against Nitish. From the JDU, only former minister Ramai Ram and former MLC Ram Badan Rai were there to welcome Sharad.

The former JDU national president is on a three-day “Samvad Yatra” to hold a series of meetings in the state. His first stop was Sonepur in Saran district. Accompanied by local RJD MLA Ramanuj Prasad, Sharad said Nitish had betrayed the people’s mandate and that most JDU workers were with the Mahagathbandhan.

“This is an RJD-sponsored show. Sharad Yadav’s tour is at Lalu Prasad’s mercy,” JDU MLC Neeraj Kumar said, dismissing talk of a party split.

“No JDU worker or leader will go to his meetings. If they do they will face disciplinary action,” he said.

“Sharad Yadav had resigned from Parliament when he was named in a hawala case. How can the same man make Lalu and Tejashwi his icons? The decision to snap ties with the Grand Alliance was taken by all legislators and the party’s state executive,” Neeraj added.

Nitish’s critics are comparing the situation with what the chief minister did to socialist leader George Fernandes. He first replaced Fernandes with Sharad as party president and then suspended Fernandes from the party. In 2009, Fernandes contested as an Independent from his old constituency of Muzaffarpur but lost. Nitish later rehabilitated him by making him a Rajya Sabha MP but the two never got along. Fernandes had played a key role in forming the Samata Party and was fielded from Nitish’s bastion of Nalanda.

But in 2004, Nitish himself contested from Barh and Nalanda seats, winning from Nalanda. Fernandes was shifted to Muzaffarpur where he managed a slim win.

JDU leaders pointed out that Sharad and Nitish were drifting apart for quite some time and their separation was the only logical end.

“The two were speaking in different voices on national issues, particularly demonetisation,” said a senior JDU leader.

The JDU leader said it was a matter of time before the party axe falls on Sharad.

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