Lalu drinks poison, announces Nitish as CM candidate

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be the chief ministerial candidate for Janata Dal United and Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance for the state Assembly elections due in September-October this year. The decision to project Nitish Kumar as the CM candidate was taken after the Bihar Chief Minister and Lalu met Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence in Delhi on Monday.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, who played the key role of mediator, thanked Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav for nominating Nitish to be the alliance's leader. Lalu was sitting next to Mulayam Singh when the announcement was made.

This could not have been achieved without the Congress and the NCP, waiting in the wings to join the alliance, making it clear that the incumbent Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, was the man they were backing. And, Mulayam had to put in whatever pressure he could to get Lalu on board.

Lalu on Monday came out with a statement endorsing Nitish as the CM candidate of the alliance. “No one in my family or RJD is interested in becoming the Chief Minister,” Lalu declared, crediting Mulayam for clinching the agreement. Lalu himself cannot contest and therefore cannot be the CM, because of his conviction in one of the fodder scam cases.

True to his style, Lalu made the announcement as dramatic as he could: “I can assure all secular powers… I will drink poison but will defeat the communal forces.” In a reciprocal move, Nitish in Patna claimed, “There was no difference with the RJD and Lalu. We will contest the elections together with the Congress.” He even hinted that the CPI, which supports his government, will be part of the alliance. The Left had earlier decided to contest the elections as a bloc without being part of any “so-called secular alliance”.

There was strong speculation that Lalu had reached out to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury. He neither confirmed nor denied it.

“Ganga keep flowing, it either enriches the plains or devastates” was his cryptic reply. However, Yechury kept the issue open-ended saying “a final decision will be taken at the meeting of the Left Parties”.

Meanwhile, the Congress which has backed Nitish’s candidacy and not had a meeting with Lalu yet, kept its fingers crossed. “We’ll give it another 24 hours before commenting,” said C P Joshi, AICC in-charge of Bihar. Joshi along with veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad have been assigned by the party high command to hold the talks and clinch the deal.

In the last Assembly elections in 2010, JDU won 115 seats, BJP 91, RJD 22, Congress 4, and Others 11.

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