M A I N   N E W S

LJP on verge of split
Nitish may form govt in Bihar
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 21
Hopes of a non-RJD government under Janata Dal (U) leader Nitesh Kumar in Bihar have gained momentum as the 29 MLA-strong Lok Janshakti Party is on the verge of a split, with 17 of its MLAs camping in a hotel near Jamshedpur.

Having taken 17 MLAs to protective confines of Jharkhand, where the BJP-led government of Chief Minister Arjun Munda is extending all possible logistic support, JD (U)-BJP leaders are waiting for one more MLA to join the group to take the next step towards formation of a non-RJD government.

Though one more MLA would only take the number to 18, a senior leader told The Tribune that two LJP MLAs, presently in jail, would take the number to 20, which would pave the way for an eventual merger with the JD (U).

The preparation of the operation began a week ago in Patna when political activist Venkatesh Kumar Sharma was entrusted with the task of mobilising support for a non-RJD government in Patna.

A convoy of over 12 cars with 12 legislators under LJP MLA Janak Singh left for Jamshedpur, where they were lodged in Hotel Four 10 Hillview and later five more legislators are said to have joined their colleagues, sources said.

The moment the number of MLAs reaches 20, it is proposed to fly them to New Delhi to present them along with the JD (U) and BJP MLAs before the media and create public opinion in favour of a popular government in Bihar. At least 122 MLAs would be presented before the media and President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, a senior leader said.

An indication of the events became available when former BJP minister in the Vajpayee government and now LJP principal general secretary Nagmani resigned from the primary membership as well as all offices of the party.

Mr Nagmani announced his decision at a press conference here and said that following a lukewarm response to the new formula for the formation of a secular government mooted by the LJP President, at least 25 of the 29 LJP were in favour of joining hands with the JD (U).

Meanwhile, it is learnt that LJP President and Steel Minister Ramvilas Paswan has asked Lok Sabha MP Surajbhan Singh to prevent his MLAs from leaving the party fold.

Earlier, Mr Nagmani contended that the people of Bihar pronounced their verdict against the RJD during the last Assembly poll by giving only 75 seats in a House of 243. However, the parties which won the elections on the anti-RJD plank failed to cobble together all non-RJD forces and provide the state an alternative government which resulted in the imposition of President’s rule, he lamented.

Holding Mr Paswan responsible for the current political stalemate in Bihar, while most of the legislators of his party favoured the installation of a popular government without delay, Mr Nagmani clarified that he honoured the verdict of the people to keep the RJD at bay and hence all his efforts would now be directed towards the installation of a government, led by Mr Nitish Kumar.

In a House of 243, none of the major alliances mustered the support of a majority members, leading to the current imbroglio. The NDA has 92 members (JD-U—55and BJP—37), while the secular front claims the support of 94 MLAs (RJD—75, Congress—10, NCP—3, CPI—3, BSP—2 and CPM—1). The CPI-ML (7) and Samajwadi Party (4) are opposed to any government either with the RJD or the BJP. All 17 Independents won the elections on the anti-RJD plank and hence the key to government formation remained with the LJP with 29 members.

Meanwhile, Mr Paswan dismissed threats of an imminent split in his party, saying that his party would not get affected by the resignation of one or two MLAs.


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