PATNA: The Janata Dal (United) represents the aspirations of the underdogs in Bihar and a merger with current ally Rashtriya Janata Dal will be “suicidal” for the party, a top leader said on Thursday.
JD(U) parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha made the statement rejecting speculations of a merger which have been triggered by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dropping hints of intending to pass on the mantle to his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, the RJD heir apparent.
“Nitish Kumar may have said something in a philosophical vein. Tejashwi Yadav has rightly refused to dwell on the same, identifying the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as our main agenda”, Kushwaha told reporters here.
“Talks about a merger are in the realm of speculation. It has not been discussed in the party. And I don’t think the party will ever make such a suicidal move. It will be akin to strangling the aspirations of Bihar’s poor and voiceless, betraying their hopes of social justice”, said Kushwaha, who had returned to the JD(U) nearly two years ago, merging the RLSP which he had floated after breaking away in 2013.
He, however, acknowledged that an attempt was made by Kumar, shortly after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, to merge not just RJD and JD(U), but also other breakaway groups of the Janata Dal like Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and JD(S) in Karnataka.
“But that did not work out”, pointed out Kushwaha, adding “We must not get distracted by pointless things. We must have our attention focused on 2024, like Arjuna’s unwavering gaze on the bird’s eye,” Kushwaha said.
Another senior JD(U) leader who ruled out a merger was Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, the minister for parliamentary affairs, who faced queries about the same from journalists outside the assembly.
“The chief minister has for long been saying that the future belongs to youngsters like Tejashwi. But do not jump to conclusions like a merger. That is not a possibility,” said Chaudhary.
Meanwhile, the BJP, which has been licking its wounds since losing power in August as a result of Kumar’s exit from NDA, sought to fish in troubled waters.
“People like Upendra Kushwaha must make up their minds as to whether they wish to carry the palanquin of Tejashwi Yadav. Nitish Kumar has destroyed all those who have stood by his side, be it allies like the BJP or associates like George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav or RCP Singh”, alleged state BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand.
In a statement, Anand also accused Kumar of “cheating” Kushwaha for the merger of RLSP, a former NDA constituent.
Source: Press Trust of India