Sharad Yadav to invite Oppn leaders for conference

Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav appears to be engaged in a war of attrition with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the former is now planning an anti-communalism conference where top Opposition leaders will be invited.

Yadav, who has expressed his displeasure over Kumar’s decision to form a government with BJP in Bihar after snapping ties with Congress and RJD, is thinking of organising the conference ahead of the August 19 National Executive of JD(U) in Patna.

He is planning to invite leaders like Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury among others for the conference that would highlight the country’s “syncretic culture”, JD(U) sources said.

The conference is “not meant to be an anti-Nitish or anti-JD(U) exercise” but highlight his opposition to the move, they said. Through such a platform, Yadav is planning to send a signal to Kumar by giving Opposition parties a chance to corner him on secularism plank.

The Yadav camp plans to organise it just before the National Executive, probably on August 17, so that the message goes to Kumar. Interestingly on Monday, JD(U) MPs present in Rajya Sabha had voted in favour of Opposition amendments on a Constitution Amendment Bill to give Backward Commission constitutional status that left the government red-faced.

Asked about Yadav’s proposed plans, a senior leader told DH that the presence of top Opposition leaders in such a convention could be read as an endorsement of the respect he commands among leaders and it would enhance his standing within his party.

Yadav, the founder President of JD(U), had expressed his public disapproval about Kumar’s decision on Monday, days after the Chief Minister made a surprise announcement last Wednesday to go with BJP. His close aides have said that Yadav would attend the August 19 meeting and put his views.

While Kumar has told BJP leadership not to further placate Yadav, sources said the disgruntled leader is trying to get endorsement for his stand from the state units. Efforts are on to get letters against Kumar’s decision from as many as 20 state units.

Though Kerala unit has already made it clear that is not with Kumar on this issue while units like Maharashtra is also thinking on the same line, sources said the units outside Bihar does not carry much weight.

The leaders of Opposition parties from Congress to the CPI(M) have been keeping in touch with Yadav following Kumar’s decision. Leaders like Sonia, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Yechury, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI’s D Raja and Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav have already spoken to him. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has also spoken to him.

(An eidted version appeared in Deccan Herald website on Aug 2, 2017)

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