PATNA, 24 July — Bihar’s key opposition party Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has split. A breakaway JD-U group yesterday said it was forming a new party called Janata Dal-Jayprakash. Sources said it would join Chief Minister Rabri Devi’s alliance. The new party includes four of JD-U’s 12 legislators in the 243-member Bihar Assembly.
Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Sharad Yadav heads the JD-U, which has four MPs in the Lok Sabha and is a member of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s ruling coalition.
The party’s break-up in the state has taken its leadership by surprise. Said JD-U legislative party leader Ganesh Prasad Yadav: “I heard this morning that four legislators have defected. I am in no position to say anything.”
The four defectors are Laxmi Narayan Yadav, Jainandan Yadav, Viswnath Singh and Sashi Kumar Rai. Rai said they have urged assembly Speaker Sadanand Singh to identify their new party as a separate group.
The move comes just a month after another opposition party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), split as four of its five legislators joined Rabri Devi’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The chief minister made three of them ministers. It is speculated that the four JD-U defectors too might eventually join the RJD. Their chances of becoming ministers are high.