13 MLAs revolt against Lalu Prasad Yadav; RJD set to split?

In a big setback to Lalu Prasad Yadav`s Rashtriya Janata Dal just before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, thirteen MLAs have left the party and may join the JD(U).

Zee Media Bureau/Manisha Singh

Patna: In a big setback to Lalu Prasad Yadav just before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and in what could change the political equations in Bihar, thirteen Rashtriya Janata Dal MLAs have left the party and may join the JD(U), as per reports.

These 13 MLAs are said to have met Vidhan Sabha Speaker Uday Narain Choudhary on Monday afternoon pledging support to Nitish Kumar government. The Speaker is reported to have recognized the breakaway faction as a separate group and has declared them "unattached" from the RJD.

RJD chief is in the national capital at the moment. He has 22 MLAs in the 243-member state Assembly. Lalu was convicted in the Fodder scam last year and was sentenced to five years in jail. At present he is out on bail.

When asked by mediapersons about the split, he sidestepped the matter and said that he had also heard something on similar lines.

On the other hand, talking to reporters, rebel RJD MLA Samrat Chaudhary said that there is no such thing as the RJD left in Bihar. “For the past three months party`s leader is in Delhi. The way he is wooing the Congress, RJD should be merged with the Congress,” he said.

He also said that they had written to the Vidhan Sabha secretary on February 14 asking to be allowed to have separate seating arrangement or be allowed to merge with JDU. "Today we have got permission to sit separately," Chaudhary said.
“I am with the MLAs who have revolted. We have asked the Speaker that we want to join the JD(U). Let`s see what happens. Whatever, Nitish (Bihar CM) will tell us, we will do,” he added.

Lalu has been in talks with the Congress regarding an alliance with the grand old party for the Lok Sabha polls. He has met Congress president and vice president, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi respectively couple of times in the recent past.

It is being said that the rebel RJD MLAs were not sure of getting tickets for the Lok Sabha polls as they feared that Lalu would offer them to the Congress.

The RJD chief has also been taking on the BJP and its PM candidate for 2014 polls, Narendra Modi, after coming out from the jail and has been talking about fighting the communal forces. In most of the opinion polls done in the recent past, BJP is expected get more than 20 seats in Bihar, followed by the RJD and then the JD(U). But things may change after the split in RJD.
However, later accompanied by RJD Legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, six of the 13 RJD MLAs told reporters that they did not consciously sign any letter for walking out of RJD and forming a separate group.

Abdul Gafoor claimed that the signature of MLAs were taken for different purposes like raising a matter for call attention motion during the Assembly session.

"I did not sign any letter consciously to leave RJD... A fraud has been committed with me," Gafoor said.

Besides Gafoor, the other MLAs who came to RJD office to deny a split were Lalit Yadav, Faiyyaz Ahmad, Durga Prasad Singh, Chandrasekhar and Akhtar-ul Islam Sahin.

Siddiqui told reporters that a meeting of the RJD Legislature party has been called tomorrow at the residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi at 12 noon where some more MLAs would make their position clear.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that Ramvilas Paswan may tie up with the BJP. However, Paswan`s son has said that no such decision has been taken till now. LJP was part of the NDA camp during Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s regime. He quit the NDA a month after the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The LJP is reportedly unhappy about the number of seats that has been offered to it in Bihar by the Congress and the RJD for LS polls.

With PTI inputs