By Manoj Pathak
Patna: With the Assembly elections in Bihar slated to be held later this year, there appears to be no consensus on who will lead the grand alliance as the task to resolve the leadership issue is proving to be a hard nut to crack for the opposition leaders.
Grand Alliance leaders held a meeting here on Friday. However, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress were conspicuously absent from the meeting, indicating that all is not well in the grand alliance.
The closed-door meeting was attended by Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Mukesh Sahni of Vikas Insaan Party (VIP), Jitan Ram Manjhi of Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and Sharad Yadav of Loktantrik Janata Dal.
After the meeting, the leaders shied away from speaking to the media.
Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said: “We will talk after February 18.” On being asked if the leadership issue was discussed, he said: “Nothing has been discussed yet.”
Sources, however, said that the leaders discussed the prospect of including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Alliance.
As per the sources, the three leaders of the alliance — Manjhi, Kushwaha and Sahani have put forward the name of Sharad Yadav as the leader of the alliance. But, the RJD, which has declared Tejashwi Yadav as the chief minister’s face, has made it clear that “Sharad Yadav is a national leader”.
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said that Sharad Yadav is a senior national leader, but RJD is the dominant political force in Bihar.
Sending a subtle message to the leaders of the grand alliance, Tiwari said the RJD had announced the name of Tejashwi Yadav for the leadership as well as for the chief ministerial face.
Sources say that this statement, and the absence of the RJD, as well as the Congress from the meeting, clearly indicates rift in the Grand Alliance over the selection of the chief ministerial face.
According to sources, though the leaders of all the parties of the grand alliance may be claiming to be together, but the RJD and the Congress seem to be separately making their own preparations for the elections.
For the alliance, Lalu Prasad has the most important role to play. Sources said Sharad Yadav could meet him in Ranchi on Saturday. However, Yadav has not made any comment on this.