Infighting in Bihar JD(U) intensifies amid battle for party positions

Infighting in Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] is likely to intensify in coming days as the party’s new national president and MP, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, has been dissolving different cells of the party and removing party leaders and workers known to be close to former party president and now Union Steel Minister R.C.P. Singh.

Both Mr. Lalan Singh and Mr. R.C.P. Singh are said be to rivals but ironically close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

In another development, Mr. Lalan Singh on Saturday said Mr. Kumar would not be attending the rally at Jind in Haryana, called by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Om Prakash Chautala, to mark the birth anniversary of his father Chaudhury Devi Lal on September 25. All non-BJP and non-Congress leaders have been invited to the rally to explore possibilities of formation of a third front for the 2024 parliamentary poll.

Earlier, it was expected that Mr. Kumar would participate in the rally to project himself as an alternative PM candidate, if situation comes.

“Though, Mr. Kumar has a very good and cordial relation with the family of Chaudhury Devi Lal but due to possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 and the flood situation in the Dtate, he will not be attending the rally and Mr Om Prakash Chautala has been informed about it,” Mr. Lalan Singh told the media.

Political analysts, however, said Mr. Kumar’s absence points to his succumbing finally to “the pressure of alliance partner BJP.”

Party revamp

Mr. Lalan Singh has dissolved as many as 32 cells of the party at the district and block levels and removed over three dozen party leaders and workers after taking over as party chief. He also shifted two loyalists of Mr. R.C.P. Singh, his predecessor, from the party’s State headquarters in Patna.

However, soon after shifting of his two loyalists — Anil Kumar and Chandan Kumar Singh — from party headquarters to look after party’s affairs in northeastern Kishanganj and Araria districts, Mr. R.C.P. Singh, party sources said, appointed four of his staunch supporters — Abhay Kushwaha, Santosh Mehta, Bishan Kumar Bittu and Arun Verma — in different capacities as his personal aides in the Union Steel Ministry.

Mr. Kushwaha, a former JD(U) MLA was instrumental in according a grand welcome for Mr R.C.P. Singh from Patna airport to party’s State headquarters during his visit on August 16 after becoming Union minister.

A few days later Mr. Lalan Singh too visited Patna after becoming party’s new national president and his loyalists too had arranged a warm welcome for him on the same route but it was said to be not as grand. Mr. Lalan Singh is likely to appoint his loyalists in key party positions in the next few days.

Party leaders wishing not to be named, told The Hindu that a “tug of war is virtually on between the two leaders and their loyalists. Second rung leaders of the party are confused and apprehensive as to whom they have to show their loyalty to avoid a fallout.”

“If such a situation continues for sometime, the party may head for a split,” said another party leader claiming to be close to both the warring leaders. “Both the leaders are acting as if party patriarch Nitish Kumar has no control over their decision,” he added.


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