Patna: Cracking the whip on rebels in the party, JD(U) national President Sharad Yadav today suspended Mahua MLA Ravindra Rai.
The move came on the eve of the deadline for the filing of nominations for the Rajya Sabha polls.
But as the rebels put up a united front against the party leadership, including former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the first one to fire the salvo was the suspended MLA himself, who said that this was "the beginning of the end of Kumar`s dictatorship and his empire based on ego".
When contacted by PTI, Rai said, "Sharad Yadav telephoned and informed me about my suspension with immediate effect. He did not say anything about the period (of suspension).
"I thanked him and told him that this is the beginning of the end of Nitish Kumar`s dictatorship and his empire based on ego."
Rai said he is in touch with other rebel legislators who want democracy in the party instead of Kumar`s autocracy.
"My suspension also shows the extent of the hatred Kumar has for my Yadav caste. There are dozens of rebel MLAs, but only I have been singled out. I will now start touring the state. Several MLAs have expressed their support for me on the issue," Rai said.
He added that the rebel faction of JD(U) legislators will put up two of their own candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls later this month.
"Tomorrow is the last day of filing of nominations for Rajya Sabha polls later this month. We all have decided to field two candidates of our own. Their names will be announced tomorrow itself," he said.
Three Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar fell vacant after Ram Vilas Paswan, Ram Kripal Yadav and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who were all members of the Upper House of Parliament, resigned after securing wins in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, another rebel MLA from Barh constituency, lambasted the JD(U) national president for suspending Rai.
"The party leadership wants to (reduce us to) submission. It wants us to stop our campaign to reform the party. But we are not afraid. The number of leaders who see and speak truth is increasing in the party," said Gyanu.
Another rebel legislator, Kanti MLA Ajit Kumar, termed Rai`s suspension an unfortunate development for the party.
Meanwhile, Sharad, Kumar, Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and a few other ministers regarded as being close to them remained closeted till late evening in discussions.
Party sources said that the deliberations were for choosing the candidates who would be given Rajya Sabha tickets. They said that the names will be officially announced tomorrow and Sharad himself could be one of the three candidates who are fielded by JD(U).