Monday, February 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

RJD to stake claim today
Rabri Devi chosen leader

PATNA, Feb 27 (UNI) — The RJD would stake claim tomorrow to form the next state government in Bihar with Chief Minister Rabri Devi elected the leader of its legislature party here tonight.

Party supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav summoned a meeting of the newly elected legislators in the official residence of the Chief Minister, where Mrs Rabri Devi was chosen to lead the party in the legislature.

Mrs Rabri Devi’s name was proposed by state Land Reforms Minister Ramai Ram and seconded by party leader Shakuni Chaudhury.

Earlier during the day, Mr Yadav said they would meet state Governor Vinod Chandra Pandey tomorrow with the list of supporting legislators and was confident that the Governor would honour the RJD’s claim to form the government.

Mr Yadav said that they were exploring all possibilities to form a government with the support of secular parties and maintained that he had received positive signals from right sources.

Being the single largest party in the state, the RJD enjoyed every right to stake the claim, he said adding that even his party-led alliance also had the clear edge over the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

“I have already got positive signals from several secular forces in the state, besides some Independents,” he stated.

Thanking the newly elected legislators, the housewife-turned Chief Minister claimed that a secular government would return to the power with the support of the like-minded parties.

She said the communal forces would never succeed in their gameplan as reflected in the verdict, which had shown that the people had faith in the party despite best efforts by the NDA leaders to erode its base.

RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav said the win of his party had proved once again the invincibility of the party’s mass support. He said the next government would be represented by the secular forces, which would never allow the communal heads to rear their heads in the state.The ruling RJD emerged as the single largest party in Bihar winning 123 seats, while the NDA secured 122. RJD’s ally, CPM got two seats.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Furkan Ansari described as ‘‘wrong and irrelevant’’ the NDA’s claim to form a government and said secular parties should explore the possibilities of forming a ‘‘clean and effective’’ government.

He said the newly-elected MLAs of the Congress would meet within a couple of days to discuss the strategy.

According to political observers, the last moment consolidation of Yadav-Muslim votes coupled with the division in upper caste votes helped the ruling party to maintain supremacy.

Among the NDA partners, the BJP won 67 seats, Samata 34 and the JD(U) 21. NDA’s another ally, Bihar People’s Party of former Lok Sabha member Anand Mohan, failed to open its account.

The NDA wave failed to materialise even in the BJP strongholds in the plateau regions of south Bihar, where the JMM surged curbing the former’s sweep.

NDA leaders, admitted that the presence of two or more NDA candidates in as many as 62 constituencies harmed the electoral prospects of the allies. The Samata Party alone had placed its candidates in 54 of the 62 seats.

In five other constituencies, as many as three NDA partners were in the fray.

With a fractured verdict, the RJD and the NDA are engaged in canvassing support of the Independents who have yielded rich electoral gains winning 20 seats.

The Congress (23), the JMM-S (12), the CPI (6) and the CPI-ML (6), Bahujan Samaj Party (5), together bagging 52 seats, also hold the key to the government formation.

Mr Laloo Yadav said he was maintaining touch with Congress leaders and expressed confidence that the party would support the RJD in government formation ‘‘to keep the communal alliance away from power.’’

BJP’s state president Nand Kishore Yadav said several Congress MLAs, who fought the elections on anti-Laloo plank, promising to free the state from the ‘‘corruption anarchy and mafia raj’’ would break away if the party (Congress) decided to throw its weight behind the RJD.


Nitish Kumar NDA choice for Bihar
Tribune News Service and agencies

NEW DELHI, Feb 27 (UNI) — The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) tonight decided to stake claim to form government in Bihar under the leadership of Samta Party leader Nitish Kumar.

Emerging from a two-and-half-hour meeting of the NDA at Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s residence this evening, Defence Minister George Fernandes told waiting newspersons that the BJP and its allies would stake claim to form the new government in the state and be able to muster support of more than the requisite majority in the 324-member assembly.

Besides Mr Vajpayee, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and other senior BJP leaders, the meeting was attended among others by Mr Fernandes, Communication Minister Ramvilas Paswan, Union Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar and Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav. After reviewing the assembly poll results in Bihar which have thrown up a hung House, the meeting unanimously decided to project Mr Nitish Kumar as the NDA leader in the state, sources in the alliance said.

Mr Nitish Kumar was chosen the leader after Communication Minister and JD (U) leader Ramvilas Paswan turned down his choice as the NDA leader in Bihar earlier at a meeting of alliance leaders convened by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at his residence.

Announcing the decision Mr Fernandes said: ‘‘There was no difference (over leadership). Though there has been lot of speculation outside the NDA, there were no reservations within.’’

On the question of government formation, he claimed. ‘‘We have received, both in writing and verbal, support from Independents, political parties and rebels who have returned to the fold and all this add up to much more than the requisite numbers.’’

Asked to specify the figures, he said though he did not have the figures, ‘‘Ours is the largest combination’’, he said.

Meanwhile, the Congress party has decided to elicit the opinion of the newly-elected legislators and state leaders in Bihar before arriving at any decision vis-a-vis Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.

The AICC General Secretary, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, said here this evening that the party would first hold a meeting with the newly-elected MLAs, before the Congress Working Committee takes it up.

Party sources said the Congress had three options. It could either decide to support the RJD on issues, decide to sit in the Opposition or maintain equi-distance.

The party is said to be facing considerable resistance from the local leaders especially after the Congress went alone in the recent assembly elections. The Congress carried a campaign against the RJD’s ‘jungle raj’.

However, some CWC members are of the opinion that the party has to look for common points like the fight against anti-secular forces.

Mrs Ambika Soni said the mandate of the people of Bihar was a vote in favour of the secular forces and after taking the views of the party MLAs and state unit, the Congress will have to take a considered view.

It may be recalled that soon after the 1999 general elections, the Congress officially severed links with the RJD with which it had an electoral pact.


Bihar Cong against supporting RJD

PATNA, Feb 27 (UNI) — The Bihar Congress almost faced a revolt on the issue of the party’s possible support to the RJD in the formation of the next state government in the state.

Party’s state working president Ramjatan Sinha and general secretary Anil Kumar Sharma told newspersons here today that the sentiments of the state unit had already been conveyed to the high command that in no case the state party would support any move to have a truck with the RJD.

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