The move was aimed at pressuring the BJP to come out with a firm offer to the JD(U) on seats.
Ahead of BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Janata Dal (U) national executive on Sunday empowered Mr. Kumar to take all decisions on seat adjustment with the BJP for the 2019 general elections.
The move was aimed at pressuring the BJP to come out with a firm offer to the JD(U) on seats. The JD(U) had earlier fought in 15 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar under an old arrangement as part of the NDA before it walked out of the alliance prior to the 2014 polls. The NDA had won 31 seats in 2014 along with new allies, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP). Mr. Shah will be visiting Patna on July 12.
Briefing the press after the meeting, party spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said Mr. Kumar in his address to the national executive had said that “no firm offer had yet been forthcoming” from the BJP and therefore no stance could be taken with regard to it.
“We are in the NDA and in Bihar Nitish Kumar will be its face,” said Mr. Tyagi.
Significantly, the party roundly condemned Union Minister Giriraj Singh’s visit to Nawada jail to meet Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists who have been lodged there for cases related to communal violence.
“There is no question of any compromise with corruption, crime and communalism. Our government does not believe in shielding or framing anyone,” Mr. Kumar was reported to have said in the closed-door meeting to his party men.
Later Mr. Tyagi too reiterated that position. “We are against communalism and Ministers going to meet the accused is completely unacceptable. We are against the Nawada incident and we don’t think it is right that a Cabinet Minister met the accused.”
He added that the JD(U) was a separate political entity and had independent views from the BJP.
Mr. Tyagi also recalled that the Janata Dal (U) had pulled out of the Mahagathbandhan because of the Congress party’s intransigence over allegations of corruption against then deputy chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Interestingly he added that till the Congress clarified its position with regard to the RJD and the allegations of corruption against Mr. Yadav, there could be no talks on a return to the old alliance.
Two resolutions were also passed by the Janata Dal (U) national executive on Sunday, one supporting the move towards simultaneous polls and the second opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.
“We believe simultaneous elections will be helpful in curbing black money, corruption and aiding good governance but it will be difficult to implement without the requisite amendments to the Representation of the People Act and Constitutional changes,” said Mr. Tyagi.
On the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, the party’s resolution stated that providing citizenship to people in India should be done without taking religion into account, and that a representation made to the party by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had convinced the JD(U) that damaging demographic changes in the north-eastern States may result from the Bill.