NEW DELHI :
Rahstriya Janata Dal (RJD) witnessed a vertical split on Tuesday after five of its eight Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) quit the opposition party and joined the ruling Janata Dal (United) or JDU. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, a close confidant of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and one of its founding members, also resigned as the national vice-president of the party today.
In the absence of five of its MLCs, Rabri Devi, former Bihar CM and wife of RJD chief, would lose the status of leader of opposition in the Upper House of the state.
“There is discontent in the party for too long now and it is visible in the public. The exits of Tuesday is an optics blunder not just because Singh has left the party but also because it puts Rabri Devi’s position of leader of opposition in the council under threat because our numbers are down to only three now," a senior party leader and legislator of RJD from Patna said requesting anonymity.
The setback for the RJD comes nearly four months ahead of the Bihar assembly polls. This is the second time in three years that Nitish Kumar-led JDU has managed to jolt RJD.
The two regional parties had joined hands in 2015 assembly elections but in 2017 Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar walked out of the alliance and joined hands with BJP.
“There is definitely a leadership crisis and most leaders are no longer working for the party but for the factions they belong to," the leader quoted above added.
According to senior party leaders, the exits point out to the larger leadership crisis in the state being fuelled by a section of disgruntled leaders, factionalism and the absence of Yadav.
"Losing legislators before the assembly elections will create a perception that all is not well in RJD before the elections. This is the primary motive of this move by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Such things are happening in other states where opposition is strong as well but this will not deter us from speaking against chief minister. At a time we should fight against coronavirus, JDU is luring our MLCs," said another RJD leader.
In the absence of Yadav, who is currently serving term in Ranchi, his son and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav took over the party’s command and also led the campaign in the Lok Sabha elections last year. RJD is the main constituent of Grand Alliance in Bihar whose other key partner is Congress.