M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Kerala unit chief of Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), resigned his Rajya Sabha seat on Wednesday, protesting against his party’s decision to support the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the centre. Kumar had announced his decision to quit last month since he was not happy working with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads NDA.
The move comes shortly after rebel JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar were disqualified from the Upper House on 5 December by Rajya Sabha chairman M.Venkaiah Naidu for attending a recent rally of opposition parties in Bihar, defying instructions from the JD(U).
JD(U) under the 81-year-old Kumar—who is also a noted writer and publisher of Mathrubhumi, one of the two big media houses in Kerala—was part of Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala. The current move could pave the way for his entry to the state’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), snapping his ties with Congress.
There are no MLAs for JD(U) in Kerala.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has previously invited him to join LDF. Kanam Rajendran, secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the other major LDF constituent, also said the party would welcome him.
If this happens, Kumar and his supporters would be the second big section to leave UDF after the coalition lost power in assembly elections in May 2016. A month after the elections, the third biggest alliance partner of UDF, Kerala Congress (Mani), had exited the Front.
Addressing reporters in New Delhi, Kumar said he submitted his resignation to the Rajya Sabha chairman Naidu.
“I resigned because as per the rules, I am a member of (Bihar chief minister) Nitish Kumar’s party and I should sit with them. But now, he has moved to follow the Sangh Parivar agenda and I just cannot accept that," he said, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
For a long time until the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Veerendra Kumar as chief of Janata Dal (Secular) was a fellow traveller of the Communist regime in Kerala. He broke off over differences on seat sharing agreements and formed his own party, Socialist Janata (Democratic) which soon merged with the JD(U) and joined the UDF, while a rival faction stayed with LDF. The rival faction later merged with JD(S).
Speaking to reporters, Kumar said he is speaking to others about the future course. “I spoke to Sharad Yadav and he is also discussing and debating on the way forward and the need for a party. Once I am back in Kerala, I will sit down with my people and chalk out what needs to be done," he said, as per the Hindustan Times report.