Sharad Yadav readying for showdown with Nitish?

Senior Rajya Sabha MP Sharad Yadav will embark on a three-day road-show in Bihar from Thursday amid speculation that he is preparing for a showdown with JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, who has now aligned with BJP against his wishes.

Questions are also being raised whether Yadav would join RJD led by Lalu Prasad, who has already invited him to his party after Kumar junked the Grand Alliance to join hands with BJP to form the government in Bihar.

Sources are also not ruling out Yadav attending the August 27 rally called by Prasad in Patna, which could turn out as a show of opposition unity.

As per the plan, Yadav would visit Sonpur, Hajipur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani and Madhepura among other town for “a dialogue with people of Bihar”.

This road show and a convention on August 17 in which a Yadav has invited Opposition leaders from Congress’ Sonia Gandhi to CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja, comes ahead of JD(U) National Executive in Patna on August 19.

His invitation letter to leaders for the convention has said that the country is “passing through a difficult period socially and politically as there is tension amongst masses on account of various reasons”.

Sources also said one of Yadav’s close aides could attend a meeting of Opposition parties, called by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, this Friday evening in Parliament House to strategise the future programmes against Narendra Modi-led NDA government. Ali Anwar Ansari, a Rajya Sabha MP who has voiced the opposition against Kumar’s move, is speculated to attend the meeting.

Yadav’s defiance has been interpreted by political watchers as preparing ground for a battle with Kumar and testing the ground before taking any action.

The JD(U) leader, who has five more years in Rajya Sabha, could also return to the Upper House even if he quits in a scenario where Prasad opts to send him from Bihar. RJD-Congress combine with 107 MLAs in Bihar Assembly can send at least two nominees on its own next April when six MPs retire.

Prasad has also announced that he would support BSP chief Mayawati, a prominent Dalit leader who quit Rajya Sabha last month, if she wishes to contest polls to the Upper House from Bihar.

By bringing in Yadav to his fold and supporting Mayawati, Prasad thinks that it would further boost Yadav consolidation in his favour as well as the support of a large chunk of Dalits to his side.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 9, 2017)

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300 communal incidents this year till May

Close to 300 communal incidents took place in the country in the first five months of this year with Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka topping the list.

Across the country, 44 people were killed and another 892 suffered injuries in communal incidents.

Among the 296 incidents reported this year till May, UP accounted for 60 of them while Karnataka registered 36. In UP, 16 people were killed and another 151 injured in such incidents while in Karnataka three people lost their lives and another 93 were wounded.

Other states were higher number of communal incidents reported this year were Madhya Pradesh (29), Rajasthan (27), West Bengal (26), Bihar (23) and Gujarat and Maharashtra (20 each), according to a written reply in Lok Sabha on Monday.

Last year saw 703 communal incidents, a decrease from 751 reported in the previous year. In 2014, there were 644 incidents.

Altogether, there were 2,394 communal incidents between 2014 and May 2017 in which 322 were killed and 15,498 injured.

Almost all these years, UP and Karnataka had topped the list. Last year too UP (162) and Karnataka (101) were on the top while in 2015, these states had 155 and 105 incidents respectively. In 2015, Maharashtra also recorded the same number of incidents as that of Karnataka.

The year 2014 also saw UP, Gujarat and Maharashtra on top followed by Karnataka. While UP had then reported 133 incidents, Maharashtra had registered 97 and Gujarat 74 incidents. Karnataka accounted for 73 such incidents then.

The statistics also showed that the highest number of loss of life was in 2015 when 97 were killed. Last year, 86 lost their lives while in 2014, the number was 95. Among the injured, 2014 accounted for 1,921 while it was 2,264 in 2015 and 2,321 last year.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 9, 2017)

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