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Sharad Yadav's dissent won't work, reconciling with Nitish Kumar seems only option

Janata Dal(United) leader Sharad Yadav’s recent standoff with Bihar chief minister and party chief Nitish Kumar raises a relevant question in the political circles: What is Yadav up to? The rift, which came to light after Yadav called Nitish’s decision to go with the NDA as "unfortunate", is unlikely to help lift his political position from what it is now.

The Deccan Herald quoted the JD(U) Rajya Sabha member as saying, “I don’t agree with the decision in Bihar, it’s unfortunate. The mandate by the people was not for this." Yadav also met senior leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party and former ally Rashtriya Janata Dal after Nitish joined the BJP-led NDA, the report said.

The rift has given rise to a myriad of speculations as to what Yadav is going to achieve with this new episode.

He has hinted his disagreement with the Bihar chief minister’s decision to break away from the grand alliance and subsequent tie-up with the NDA. As a co-founder of the JD(U), it was only normal for Yadav to expect Nitish to count on his opinion before taking decisions as important as forming or breaking an alliance.

File image of Sharad Yadav. PTI

File image of Sharad Yadav. PTI

Nitish’s high-handedness in deciding upon crucial policy matters is seen as one of the reasons for Yadav to revolt against him. Yet, it is still not seen as a sufficient one. Also there is hardly any possibility of the tussle yielding any dividend for the Rajya Sabha MP.

Yadav has also ruled out the speculation of him forming another party. “There is no question of forming another party,” The Times of India quoted him as saying.

This was a predictable statement from him. It is highly unlikely that he would be able to garner enough support from within or outside the JD(U) to effectively form a new party. It is to be noted that Yadav hails from Madhya Pradesh, but his politics is based in Bihar. Hence his mass appeal is limited to a few sections of the society.

Moreover, it seems too late for the 70-year-old Yadav to start a new political party. A new party would require him to be in active leadership to reach out to the masses, which may not be possible for him.

Another speculation that Yadav may garner support from MLAs to expel Nitish as the chief minister also does not hold merit. JD(U) has only about 20 MLAs, who belong to the social grouping, which forms the core of Yadav’s political base. This figure is not even one-sixth of the party’s strength in the Assembly. Even if he decides to desert the JD(U) to form an anti-BJP ‘secular’ alliance, as speculated by many, it is unlikely to politically benefit him.

The possible major players of such an anti-BJP alliance would be the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the RJD. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are in shambles after BJP's historic win in Uttar Pradesh. The RJD is discredited after Lalu Prasad Yadav's conviction in the fodder scam. In such a scenario, an exercise to rally an anti-BJP front may turn out to be futile one for the Rajya Sabha MP.

Speculations are rife in the national media that Yadav would participate in RJD’s 'BJP Hatao Desh Bachao' rally on 27 August — without resigning from the party. But that may attract disciplinary action against him. In such a situation, Yadav is likely to lose the present support base he has within the party.

At present, the only path which seems to be convenient and practically viable for Yadav is to reconcile with Nitish's decision to join NDA. But doesn't a veteran leader like Yadav know about this possibility? Doesn't he know that he would achieve nothing through his dissent?

Yadav has been the president of the JD(U), a seven-term Lok Sabha MP, two-time Rajya Sabha member and a Union Cabinet minister thrice. Yadav, though a spent force now, is a Delhi-based politician, whose stance over various national issues is noted by the media. Thanks to his prominence in the media, BJP may also offer him a berth in the Union Cabinet or any other position of equivalent nature, as a measure to keep the constant bickering within the ruling alliance at bay.

This might finally resolve the rift. But is this what Yadav is aiming at?

Updated Date: Aug 05, 2017 14:34 PM

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