Law Kumar Mishra
Patna : In a strategic move, the new Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai is avoiding attacking RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family members as the party does not want to antagonise Yadavs in view of UP assembly polls. Nityanand Rai is maintaining strategic silence on Lalu and his son and deputy chief minister Tejeshwi Yadav. At the meetings of different wings of the state unit of BJP held in his honour since he took over, Nityanand refrained from attacking Lalu or Tejeshwi. Even at press conference, he refused to make any adverse comment against the two.
Nityananad had been elected to Bihar assembly four times from Hajipur, which is considered a strong Yadav belt, and Lalu’s two sons were elected to Bihar assembly with strong support of Yadavs in 2015 from Vaishali district. In the past, former CM Rabri Devi too was elected from Raghopur in Vaishali.
Senior party leaders said, Nityananad has been asked not to comment on Lalu or his family as BJP can not antagonise Yadav voters. They said during the campaign for Bihar assembly elections, PM Narendra Modi had repeatedly alleged Lalu was engaged in “setting” his sons in politics. This direct attack on Lalu and his sons helped consolidate Yadav voters against NDA, party leaders said. The Yadav voters account for 22% in Bihar.
In the 2015 assembly elections, Yadav candidates fielded by the NDA could not succeed much as the Yadav candidates put by Grand Alliance were preferred by a section of voters. Even Nand Kishore Yadav, who was leader of opposition in Bihar assembly and had been elected with heavy margins of over 60,000 votes in 2010 assembly polls could manage to retain his seat by 1,600 votes only in 2015.
“Appointment of Nityanand Rai, MP from Ujiyarpur, as president of Bihar unit of BJP last week will have no effect on the core vote bank of RJD that is Yadavs,” claimed senior RJD leader Bhai Birendra recently. Bhai Birendra, who represents Maner in 00lyBihar assembly, said Nityananad Rai was made BJP president only to attract Yadav voters in the next elections. But, all the Yadavs are strong supporters of RJD chief Lalu Prasad who gave them economic, political and social status in last 25 years, Bhai Birendra said.
Former union minister and RJD vice-president Raghuwansh Prasad Singh, criticised JD (U) for supporting demonetisation. Calling the JD(U) leaders as `Asharams’, Raghuwansh said these leaders were supporting PM Narendra Modi in anticipation of sharing power with the BJP in future. He said people were supporting Lalu Prasad and even JD(U) benefitted from it in the last assembly elections.
Nityanand succeeded Mangal Pandey, a Brahmin. His earlier predecessors included C P Thakur, upper caste Bhumihar, and Gopal Narain Singh, upper caste Rajput. Nityananad defended his appointment by saying even Nand Kishore Yadav headed
Bihar BJP earlier and his appointment was not on caste considerations. He recalled Jagdambi Prasad Yadav, Janardan Prasad Yadav and Hukumdeo Narain Yadav were BJP’s top leaders from Bihar.