Sharad Yadav Loses the Opportunity, Yet Again
VENKATESH KESARI & SEEMA MUSTAFA
NEW DELHI: The one Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav who was kept totally out of the loop by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has gone into hibernation. He is weighing his limited options, talking at the one end to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to see if there is any future for him in the government at the centre and meeting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to weigh options of remaining with the Opposition.
What shackles who now seems to be the lone dissenting voice in the Janata Dal(U) (that has of course gone silent since Nitish Kumar’s flip flop that placed him on the side of the BJP in Bihar) is his term in the Rajya Sabha. He came into the Upper House in 2014 and has three more valuable years to go before his term gets over in 2020. If he leaves the JD(U) Yadav will lose the seat. If he remains, he might lose his dignity unless of course the BJP is willing to accommodate him in Delhi.
Indications are that the response has not been very positive. More so as Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Yadav have poor relations, to put it mildly. Sharad Yadav has always taken care to remain in a position opposing Kumar though both being in the same party have taken care to hide the differences behind civility, and a smile. Nitish Kumar when asked refused to speak against Yadav, although the latter has not always been so circumspect.
In fact when Nitish Kumar was busy opposing the BJP, Sharad Yadav was more kindly disposed. And it is only recently that he has come out with a sledgehammer against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party both in Parliament and outside. Till about three weeks ago Sharad Yadav had taken the lead in organising a big conclave in Kashmir, along with the Congress that of course chickened out, maintaining that it was imperative for the Opposition to speak out in the current crisis.
Nitish Kumar, sources said, kept Sharad Yadav out of the loop, and this despite the fact that the latter is the seniormost JD(U) MP besides having been its president till recently. Sharad Yadav, while an active politician has been unable to develop his own support base, in either UP or Bihar. This despite the fact that he won the Lok Sabha polls from Madhepura seven times in running, losing only in the last 2014 parliamentary elections. However, unlike Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav he has not been able to stitch together a blanket of blind support across the states.
Sharad Yadav thus is likely to hold on to the RS seat, that means stay with teh JD(U). Whether he will defy the party in Parliament on issues or not remains to be seen. Opposition parties are themselves struggling to retain seats in the Upper House, and despite his meeting with Rahul Gandhi, Yadav is unlikely to secure a nomination if that is indeed what he is looking for. More so as Congress leader Ahmed Patel is struggling to keep his seat in Gujarat, with at least six Congress legislators deserting the party for the BJP at this crucial juncture.
Scribes and party leaders are now waiting for Sharad Yadav to break his self imposed silence. As reporters who have covered him for long, he has his own style in handling the many political crises he has faced in his chequered career. He hunkers down, blocks all phones, and does not speak, not even to wish the time of day, until he has completed all his consultations and made up his mind. He then emerges, taking a position, as if this was his considered view all along.
Sources in the JD(U) claim that he will take a cabinet berth if offered one by Jaitley. But conversely, if he is not, he will emerge to take a moral position on the issue, maintaining that he had decided not to be lured by money or office, and was committed to the mandate of Bihar that was against the BJP.
Meanwhile, the opportunity to emerge as a leader and a coalescing force for the Opposition in Bihar seems to have been lost for Sharad Yadav as such issues require a strike while the iron is still hot. The space instead has been occupied by Lalu Yadav.