New Delhi: A meeting of Janata Dal (United), or JDU, members of legislative assembly (MLAs) in Patna later this week is all set to formally take the party back into the folds of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after a gap of more than four years.
Senior members of the JDU said that the meeting of all the MLAs would be important as Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar would formally discuss the idea of joining the NDA with the elected representatives.
“Before JDU pulled out of the ‘grand alliance’ government, MLAs of the party had met several times. Just as there was a demand from MLAs to leave the ‘grand alliance’, similarly there is overwhelming support in the party for joining the NDA. Nitish Kumar is bound by the decision taken by the MLAs," said a senior leader of the JDU who is in Patna to take part in the meeting.
Kumar-led JDU snapped ties with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress last month and realigned its state government in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kumar’s formal entry in the NDA is significant because it not only bolsters the NDA’s bench strength but also deals a further blow to opposition unity.
“An offer was extended to us to join the NDA. All these things follow a set process. We have the party’s national council meeting on 19 August and this will come up for discussion then. A formal announcement about us joining the NDA will come during that meeting," a top functionary of the JDU said requesting anonymity.
The move comes in the backdrop of BJP president Amit Shah’s meeting with Kumar in the national capital on Saturday in which Shah invited JDU to join the ruling alliance. “I met JDU president Nitish Kumar at my residence yesterday. I invited JDU to join the NDA," Shah said on Twitter after the meeting.
A formal entry of JDU in the ruling alliance could also pave the way for the regional party to become part of the Union cabinet. The NDA’s Bihar ally and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) also said that the JDU should join the Union cabinet. Paswan told reporters that it was a “misfortune" that JDU was not part of the Union government despite being in government in Bihar for so long.
“It is a natural step forward for the JDU and NDA because the party becomes part of the ruling alliance, it is obvious that sooner or later JDU would join government.... The discussions are directly taking place between senior leaders of the BJP and Nitish Kumar," the JDU leader added.
However, as the JDU prepares to join the ruling alliance, it continues to face rebellion from a section of party leaders, including its former chief Sharad Yadav. Cracks were out in the public on Saturday when the party removed Yadav as the leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha and replaced him with R.C.P. Singh, a senior party leader and a close aide of Kumar.