The JD(U) today said Sharad Yadav has "voluntarily left" the party and rejected his claim of a split in it, asserting that almost every office bearer and all MLAs are with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The party stepped up its attack on Yadav, who has opposed the decision to join hands with the BJP, as it suspended 21 leaders in the state, considered loyal to him, for alleged anti-party activities.
JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi said Yadav can still return to the party but will be "useless" for it if he attends RJD chief Lalu Prasad's rally on August 27. He claimed "98 per cent of office bearers, 100 per cent of MLAs and 75 per cent of state committees" are with Kumar, who is also the party president, as he refuted Yadav's claim of enjoying support of 14 state units.
Bihar JD(U) president Basistha Narayan Singh today suspended from primary membership 21 leaders and office beares including former minister Ramai Ram, ex-MP from Sheohar Arjun Rai, former MLA Raj Kishore Sinha and ex-MLC Vijay Varma. Despite the JD(U) distancing itself from the recent tour of Sharad Yadav to the state, these 21 leaders and district level office bearers were seen with him.
Tyagi, however, also held out an olive branch to Yadav saying he has "sacrificed" a lot for the socialist cause and will be respected like an elder brother if he comes back.
"There is no split in the party. It is as united behind Nitish Kumar as it was until recently. A party does not split if one or two persons leave it.... As far as Sharad ji is concerned, he has left the party voluntarily," he told reporters.
Asked to elaborate, he claimed Yadav was not participating in JD(U) events but those organised by the RJD which indicated that he had left the party.
Yadav had been elected to Parliament many a time with the support of the BJP, he said and wondered why he was siding with "corruption" when he had opposed it during his entire political career.
Tyagi also said only five state units, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Jammu and Kashmir, of the JD(U) are recognised in the Election Commission as ones with a say in election of the party president and all except Kerala unit are with Kumar.
Even Kerala unit headed Rajya Sabha member M P Veerendra Kumar is not supporting Sharad Yadav, Tyagi claimed. He claimed Veerendra Kumar has decided to leave the Congress-led UDF and join the CPI(M)-led LDF in the state.
He also added that JD(U) as a party with its symbol of arrow is recognised only in Bihar.
Tyagi acknowledged that some state units may be with Yadav but added that they have no recognition.
Asked if the party will expel Yadav, he underlined its long association with the veteran leader and said such a decision would be very difficult.
"He has spent three years in jail. He has quit the Lok Sabha on moral ground. He is not like Ali Anwar, who did not spend even half-an-hour in any party dharna," he said.
Anwar, a Rajya Sabha mmeber, has stood by Yadav and was suspended from its parliamentary party by the JD(U).
With the RJD and the Congress crediting their alliance with Kumar for his return as chief minister in 2015 assembly polls, Tyagi said it is not Lalu Prasad but Nitish Kumar who has ensured victory of whichever alliance he has joined.
If the Lok Sabha and assembly elections are held today, the opposition alliance of 16 parties will not win more than two and 15 seats respectively, he claimed, citing vote share if these parties in the 2014 general elections when NDA, RJD and JD(U) had fought elections separately.
Kumar has called a meeting of party national executive in Patna on August 19.