Policy ‘approved’ by JD (U) for determining RS poll candidates

On Friday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was “approved” by his Janata Dal (United) to call for a party candidate for the state’s upcoming biennial Rajya Sabha elections. Elections for five seats in the upper house of parliament from Bihar are scheduled for early next month. The JD (U) won two of the seats, though it may have to settle for one in the state legislature.

Party ministers and legislators formed a line at the chief minister’s official residence in the afternoon, sparking all sorts of speculation on a day when the state’s political environment was heavily blamed for the CBI’s crackdown on another corruption case filed against Kumar. Ever-rival, RJD president Lalu Prasad.

All the ministers and MLAs, including Information and Public Relations Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha, who was out of Patna for some reason, have agreed to empower the Chief Minister to decide the candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections. A national general secretary of the JD (U) told PTI over phone.

Outside Nitish Kumar’s residence, reporters questioned Shravan Kumar, another minister close to the chief minister, who was suspected of considering Union Minister RCP Singh for another term in the Rajya Sabha.

“We have all unanimously empowered the chief minister to take any decision. We will abide by whatever decision he takes,” the minister said.

A former IAS officer who is indebted to the Chief Minister for rising to the JD (U), RCP Singh will have to be re-elected to Parliament to remain a member of the Union Cabinet.

There is speculation that Singh, who was the party’s national president until he joined the cabinet last year, may face some problems in being considered for another term.

It is believed that Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalon, the current JD (U) president who himself is an old ally of Kumar but active in politics for decades as opposed to RCP Singh, does not share a good equation with the latter.

It is also believed that Lalon, who is the party leader in the Lok Sabha, felt little when he was selected for the RCP, his Rajya Sabha counterpart, cabinet post.

Munger MP, who was a powerful minister in the state till he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019, is said to be optimistic about getting a seat in the cabinet for himself and Kumar is said to have lobbied hard for inclusion of both RCP and Lalon.

The BJP, which itself enjoys a ruthless majority in parliament, has pursued a policy of placing allies with a token representation and was clearly not in the mood to give the JD (U) more leeway.

Of the two Rajya Sabha seats held by the JD (U) for which elections are to be held soon, one was occupied by RCP Singh and the other was vacant for almost five years after the disqualification of veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav.

The BJP, which has retained the remaining two seats, is expected to retain both without much difficulty.

The RJD, which holds only one seat, may be able to get another seat in the assembly due to its advanced strength. The re-election of Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharati is seen as a pre-determined conclusion but there seems to be no consensus on the candidate for the second seat.

A meeting of the RJD parliamentary board held earlier this week similarly approved Prasad to decide the candidates.

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