Nitish dilly-dallying on merger makes Lalu impatient
Amid continuing uncertainty over merger of the 'Janata Parivar', RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Monday sought to break the ice with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, saying he was prepared for <g data-gr-id="68">both-a</g> merger between his party and JD(U) or a broad-based secular alliance-to take on BJP in the state assembly polls.
Prasad, who after showing initial enthusiasm over the proposed merger between the two Bihar-centric parties, was said to have gone cold on the idea, acknowledged for the first time that lingering uncertainty was making the "environment unpleasant".
"I am now saying we should hurry up over the <g data-gr-id="50">mega-alliance</g>. JD(U) should talk to Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also about their demands and wishes. If you want merger between Rashtriya Janata Dal and JD(U) then (also) I am ready. Let us let us sit together today itself and finalise it," he said.
Prasad added: "All issues including that of leadership and Chief Ministerial candidate will be sorted out once there is finality about the alliance."
One of the major stumbling blocks in the path to a merger between RJD and JD(U) was said to be the latter's insistence on designating Nitish Kumar as the merged entity's chief ministerial face. Prasad has hitherto refused to project Kumar as <g data-gr-id="49">the the</g> future Chief Minister.
Prasad had also <g data-gr-id="43">riled</g> Kumar by publicly inviting former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a protege-turned-detractor of the incumbent CM, to join the broad secular alliance mooted by the RJD chief.
Several rounds of talks chaired by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has been nominated to head six off-shoots of the 'Janata Parivar' after the merger, have failed to sort out the differences between the two Bihar satraps. The six splintered 'Janata Parivar' entities – SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S), INLD and Samajwadi Janata Party – had in April announced that they had merged and formed a committee to discuss issues relating to the new party's name, election symbol etc.
However, there has been no movement forward ever since.
Kumar had even skipped such a meeting in Delhi last month despite being in town, a day after Prasad broached the idea of roping in Manjhi in the proposed alliance.
"I telephoned Nitish Kumar one week ago and said days were passing and that we should now sit together quickly and decide about <g data-gr-id="42">alliance</g>, elections, seats and other such issues. Various kinds of talks doing the round in the market about us are making the environment unpleasant," Prasad said.
Kumar, he said, could not come as he was recuperating from an eye <g data-gr-id="46">ailment</g> but JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav met him at his residence for talks. Prasad's sudden insistence on hastening alliance talks comes in the backdrop of Congress' overtures to Kumar and JD(U) in the <g data-gr-id="45">run up</g> to the assembly polls.
Congress supports the JD(U) government in Bihar and several of its state leaders, including state party president Ashok Chaudhary, have repeatedly reposed faith in Kumar's leadership and expressed willingness to contest the coming polls with him provided they are given a respectable share of seats for the assembly polls.