Even as troubles spiral around the Congress-RJD-JD(U) ‘mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar, the Opposition could announce the name of a joint candidate for the vice-president poll following the meeting of non-NDA here today.
The meeting has been convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Apart from Congress, other parties including, RJD, TMC, Left, DMK, NCP, SP and BSP are expected to take part in the meeting.
After backing NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the upcoming presidential poll, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will skip today’s meeting of 18 parties. Nitish’s decision to skip the crucial Opposition meeting is seen in the context of an increasingly friendly approach to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. He had similarly given a meeting to discuss the opposition presidential nominee a miss.
He has, instead, convened a meeting of party MPs, MLAs, MLCs and district presidents today at his residence to discuss the future course of action following CBI raids on the alliance partner Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and lodging of FIR against his son Tejashwi Yadav.
While Nitish will keep away from the crucial meet, JD(U) MPs Sharad Yadav and K C Tyagi will attend the meeting.
Times of India, in its report, cited sources saying that while the opposition has not zeroed in on the name of any vice-presidential candidate yet, there is a board consensus on the person not being from the Congress after Meira Kumar’s nomination presidential candidate.
According to the report, the opposition did not rule out the possibility of Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar’s name for the vice-president. A section of the opposition also said that former West Bengal Governor, who was earlier among the top contenders for the opposition's presidential candidate, may find mention on the list of names in today’s meeting.
The Left has indicated it remains committed to contesting the poll even though the numbers are stacked in favour of the NDA nominee. A senior Left leader said they were even willing to consider a candidate with no political affiliation.
On the other hand, cracks in the ruling alliance in Bihar deepened on Monday over differences on how to combat corruption charges against deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, even as senior coalition partner Rashtriya Janata Dal backed him and ruled out his resignation.
The RJD’s 80 MLAs in Patna unanimously decided to back Tejashwi and his father, party chief Lalu Prasad, who are facing charges in an alleged land-for-hotels scandal that saw the Central Bureau of Investigation raiding their homes and other properties last week.
Acording to a Hindustan Times report, JD(U) sources admitted that the 18-month old alliance was passign through a turbulent phase.
“The CM is definitely caught between his zero-tolerance against corruption policy, on the one hand, (and) fear of the alliance breaking midway,” said a senior party leader.
Meanwhile, Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai told TV news channels on Monday said the party will back Nitish’s government from outside if the RJD and Congress withdrew from the ruling alliance.