A group of JD(U) leaders are considering expelling their president Nitish Kumar, sources in the party said on Thursday, threatening to bring into open a growing resentment against the Bihar chief minister who dramatically dumped the party’s old alliance partners last month to realign with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, the second-most prominent face in the party, is regarded as the head of the faction unhappy with Kumar’s decision. Yadav was set to begin on Thursday a three-day tour of Bihar in which he will meet members of the party.
“Kumar’s unilateral decision to walk out of the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) violates the mandate of the 2015 assembly elections. Twelve state unit presidents met Yadav recently to condemn the decision. We are exploring legal and constitutional options (on expelling Kumar as the party president)”, former party general secretary Arun Srivastava said.
Srivastava was suspended on Tuesday for his “anti-party activity” in appointing an election agent for the recent Rajya Sabha by-polls in Gujarat without consulting the party president.
The fight between legislators loyal to Kumar and those backing Yadav is likely to lead to a showdown at the party’s August 19 national executive meeting in Patna.
In case there is a formal breakaway, the two factions will need to approach the Election Commission to claim the party name and the symbol (arrow).
A similar predicament arose when Tamil party AIADMK split after J Jayalalithaa’s demise. The Election Commission froze the party’s “two leaves” symbol, while awarding new symbols to the two factions led by O Paneerselvam and TTV Dinakaran.
In case the EC takes a similar position, Kumar will need to take measures to float a new party. “Such a course will bring to surface the grave resentment that already exists against party workers”, the JD (U) rebels say.
Kumar’s hold over the party rank and file is expected to be tested at the Patna meeting of the party national executive on August 19. The rebel faction, sources said, have planned sharp attacks against Kumar over his decision to align with the saffron party.