Barring a last-minute change in the permutations, Janata Dal working president Sharad Yadav appeared all set to become the new party chief at the cost of scam-tainted Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav.
The banner of revolt against the party president has been raised in the state with the filing of nomination papers by the working president. Dissidents asking for a change in the leadership following the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) request to chargesheet Laloo Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam, received a shot in the arm with fence sitters too throwing in their weight in favour Sharad Yadav.
That there is discernible swing in favour of the working president in the home state of Laloo Prasad Yadav is evident from the fact three Bihar ministers, so far considered neutral, had proposed the candidature of Sharad Yadav.
Talking to Business Standard, state minister for institutional finance, Managni Lal Mandal yesterday said: Victory of Sharad Yadav is a foregone conclusion and suggested that Laloo Yadav should retire in favour of the working president. Mandal, alongwith Ramjeevan Singh and Brijendra Yadav (both ministers), has proposed the candidature of Sharad Yadav, an MP from Madhepura.
Other signatories of the nomination papers, Mandal said, are Nawal Kishore Rai, Dinesh Chandra Yadav, Sukhdeo Paswan (all MPs) Gautam Sagar Rana, Ram Nath Thakur, Tanveer Hassan (all MLCs) Arun Kumar Yadav and Rajendra Yadav both district presidents of Supaul and Saharsa. This will give a clear message that the Yadavas, Muslims and non-Yadav backwards have alligned in favour of Sharad, he claimed.
Besides, the legislators and party workers who were divided in the camps of Sharad Yadav and Ram Bilas Paswan will come on one platform and challenge the might of Yadav. Mandal said that in no case Sharad Yadav would withdraw his candidature as he was on a stronger wicket with the support of H D Deve Gowadas camp.
The pro changers maintained that Laloo Prasad Yadav was interested in retaining the party presidentship as he was aware that he would be forced to relinquish the chief ministership in the event of Governor A R Kidwai giving his assent to CBIs request to chargesheet him. The party can not be used to cover up ones misdeeds.
Mandal said that the fact that Sharad Yadavs candidature has been proposed by 13 state presidents, proves beyond doubt that Laloo has no support outside the state.
The candidature of Sharad Yadav is being favoured on the grounds that he is well mannered, has regards for ethics and has the capacity to implement the policies and programmes of the party at grassroot levels and restore the inner party democracy. Besides, the party required a whole time president.
Referring to Laloo Prasad Yadavs announcement that the next national executive council meeting and election for party president would be held in Patna, Ganesh Prasad Yadav, a former minister and prominent dissident leader, reacted sharply and said that he (Laloo) had no business to decide the venue of elections. Laloo Prasad Yadav ceases to be the national president once he filed the nomination papers. The venue will now be decided by the returning officer and not by him.
Ganesh Yadav suggested that the Chief Minister should withdraw his papers in favour of Sharad Yadav in the larger interest of the party. He maintained that though he, alongwith several ministers and senior legislators, had not been nominated to the national council to ensure his smooth sailing, a vertical split had taken place in the council. Majority of National Council members from Bihar favour Sharad Yadav.
Gautam Sagar Rana, MLC and a National Council members also said that since the two Yadavs wield considerable clout among party leaders and have decided to contest, a division among the delegates can not be ruled out.