The result of the Vice-Presidential election, scheduled for August 5, is a forgone conclusion in favour of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), but the Opposition hopes to make it yet another display of its unity and mark it with the return of Janata Dal (United) to the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has extended the olive branch to the JD(U) leadership, and the latter have committed to supporting the Opposition candidate for the vice presidential election.On Tuesday, Gandhi, who returned earlier this week from his foreign sojourn, asked Bihar Congress chief Ashok Choudhary to take disciplinary action against state unit party leaders if they were to publicly criticise Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
According to sources, Choudhary was told by Rahul that the Bihar CM was a trusted ally of the Congress and should be accorded respect. Choudhary is also the minister of education and information technology in the Bihar government.
Choudhary conveyed this to the JD(U) leadership, which has been upset after Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had questioned Kumar's commitment to fighting BJP in the wake of JD(U)'s decision to support NDA's presidential candidate.
JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said the bitterness between the two parties has ended and the alliance in Bihar remains strong. "We had said our support to NDA's presidential candidate was a one off, and we maintain that. We would support the Opposition's vice presidential candidate," Tyagi said.
Meanwhile, in Patna today, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad said at the foundation day of his party that BJP would be finished in 2019 if Priyanka Gandhi, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal come together.
The last date for filing of nominations for the vice presidential poll is July 18. The BJP expects to win the election comfortably. Congress leaders have started to reach out to other opposition parties. Congress leader and political adviser to party president Sonia Gandhi is in talks with Opposition leaders. He has phoned Communist Party of India (CPI)'s D Raja and others. Leaders of the 17 Opposition parties are likely to meet early next week.
The Left and JD(U), meanwhile, have asked Congress to focus on programmatic unity of the Opposition, and adopt united protests inside Parliament during the monsoon session, as well as outside it, to raise issues of agrarian distress and mob lynchings.
The BJP today continued with its attack on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and his family for amassing wealth and properties by corrupt means. BJP leader Sushil Modi called Prasad "Bihar's Robert Vadra". He asked Bihar CM Kumar to break his silence and act against his ally. Sushil Modi accused Kumar of indirectly patronizing corruption with two of Prasad's sons being ministers in his government. The BJP leader also claimed that two senior RJD leaders had met two union ministers to request them to save the political careers of Prasad's sons, but these ministers rejected the plea.