JD(U) leaders demand Nitish's return
Patna: The JD(U) Legislature party today decided to take the final call on choosing a new leader tomorrow in the wake of the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
When MLAs persisted asking him to continue as CM and even threatened to sit on dharna at his residence, Kumar sought time till tomorrow to convey his decision, party spokesman Sanjay Singh told reporters.
Accordingly, JD(U) Legislature party meeting has been called again tomorrow, Singh said. Nitish Kumar in his speech at the meeting said his continuing as chief minister would be a loss for the party and insisted on not withdrawing his resignation.
Kumar said he would devote more time to the party remaining out of power. He also said that rival BJP was making mockery of his resignation by describing it as "nautanki" (drama). But, party legilators refused to buy his argument.
Facing the heightened sentiment of the MLAs, Kumar sought time till tomorrow to convey his decision to the party on his resignation, JD(U) Spokesman Sanjay Singh said.
Earlier, senior Minister Narendra Singh proposed the name of Kumar as party leader in the Assembly and all MLAs supported it, JD(U) MLA Ashok Kumar said. Name of no other leader as new leader was proposed in the meeting, he said. JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, reported to be not in favour of continuation of Kumar after severe drubbing in Lok Sabha polls, was present in the meeting which witnessed sloganeering in favour of Kumar.
Earlier during the day, Yadav faced stormy protest from Kumar's supporters for his stand outside the chief minister's house.
Raising the slogan of 'One leader One mission', the legislators highlighted that since they got peoples' mandate in 2010 Assembly poll in the name of Kumar he should continue during the remaining 18 months of the present Assembly.
Of the total 117 party MLAs, four women legislators, who have been suspended for anti-party activities in the Parliamentary poll, were not invited at the nearly one-and-a- half hour long meeting at the residence of the chief minister.
The four suspended women MLAs were former minister Renu Kushwaha, whose husband Vijay Singh fought on BJP ticket against Sharad Yadav in Madhepura, Sujata Devi, Poonam Yadav, whose sister was in the fray from Khagaria on RJD ticket, and Anu Shukla who fought as an Independent at Vaishali Lok Sabha seat.
An Independent Binay Bihari, however, attended the meeting. Tempers ran high outside the venue of the meeting with supporters of Kumar manhandling senior minister Ramai Ram, who has been speaking against the chief minister particularly after the debacle in the general elections.
Ram was pushed by angry supporters of Kumar. He was later cordoned by security personnel who took him to the state guest house under their protection. Earlier, party MLC Rajkishore Singh also faced protest when he was telling mediapersons after coming out of the meeting that Kumar was not agreeing to take back his resignation despite insistence of the MLAs.
Minister Shyam Rajak said apart from Nitish Kumar, no other name was discussed in the meeting as the new leader of the party. All the MLAs unitedly said that Nitish should continue to lead the party and the government, he said.
But, when Nitish stood his ground and refused to take back resignation, the legislators said they would sit on dharna to force him to reconsider his decision. The JD(U) legislators said that party president Sharad Yadav said the mandate in the general election was an attack on party ancestor's ideology.
He praised Nitish saying he is the face of JD(U) in Bihar and has done a commendable work to take Bihar forward which no other leaders have done so far. Yadav said Kumar's resignation was the decision of the party and his decision should be respected. But, MLAs voiced against it.
MLC Neeraj Kumar, who is also JD(U) spokesman, said that all the legislators were of one view that Nitish should continue as leader of the party as well government in the state.
He said minister Narendra Singh, whose name was doing the rounds as potential replacement, proposed the name of Kumar and said would sit on indefinite strike if he did not take back his resignation.
Proving media reports wrong, all party leaders including ministers like Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Narendra Narayan Yadav and Ramai Ram, whose names were reported as alternative to Kumar insisted that Kumar should lead the party and the government, he said.
Neeraj Kumar said that legislators were of the strong view that communal forces, who have managed to win a large number of seats in the general election, would try to disturb "sadbhav" (harmony) against which we should stand guard strongly.
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