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Nitish anointed JD(U) prez, eyes bigger role

The decks were cleared on Sunday for Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to play a larger role in national politics. He was unanimously elected president of Janata Dal (United) on Sunday, bringing to an end the decade long tenure of Sharad Yadav in office. Yadav had ruled himself out for the fourth term.

The Bihar Chief Minister, who made a spectacular return to power last year after his party was bruised and battered in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, told the party’s executive about efforts being made to bring parties with similar ideologies together as he accepted the new responsibility.

Having propelled the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance to a massive win over BJP-led NDA in the last year’s state assembly polls, Kumar’s party is in talks with Ajit Singh-led RLD and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha for a merger. Such moves would help increase JD(U)’s sphere of influence beyond Bihar. It is for the first time that Kumar, JD(U)’s face in Bihar, has been elected president of the state-centric party. Its two previous presidents- George Fernandes and Sharad Yadav- were from outside Bihar, the state they virtually made their political home.

Kumar’s name was proposed by Sharad Yadav and seconded by the party’s secretary general KC Tyagi and general secretary Javed Raza, among others, party leaders said following the meeting. Both Tyagi and Raza are close confidants of Yadav. Their active support should put to rest any talk of differences within the party. 

“We stopped them (BJP) in Bihar and we are working to stop them in UP,” he said, noting that sweeping the Lok Sabha polls in these two states was the key to the emphatic win of the saffron alliance. Asked if JD(U) would make another attempt at merger with Samajwadi Party, he noted that Mulayam Singh Yadav as well as BSP supremo Mayawati had made it clear they will go it alone in the elections.
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