In an embarrassment to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U), a party MLA has claimed to have ensured the defeat of an “arrogant” BJP candidate in an adjoining constituency by refusing to campaign in favour of the latter.
A video clip of Narendra Kumar Niraj alias Gopal Mandal, the third-term MLA from Gopalpur in Bhagalpur district, went viral on the social media on Tuesday.
Mandal can be heard, in the clip, making many uncharitable remarks against district BJP chief Rohit Pandey who was fielded from Bhagalpur seat but lost to Ajeet Sharma of the Congress. Mandal says in the video “whoever I campaigned for, in adjoining seats, won. But, I did not canvas for Rohit Pandey who has a lot of arrogance (ghamand)” and he lost.
Mandal also expressed resentment over Pandeys failure to greet him while they were sharing the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an election rally. “The result BJP lost one of its pocket boroughs”, the MLA said.
Named after the eponymous town, Bhagalpur was held by the BJP from 1990 till 2014 when Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the sitting MLA, got elected to the Lok Sabha from Buxar and ended up in the union council of ministers. Sharma wrested the seat for the Congress in the ensuing by-poll and retained it, defeating Choubeys son Arijit Shashwat, in the assembly polls of 2015.
He made a hat-trick in the assembly polls last year, defeating Pandey by a slender margin of just over 1,000 votes. JD(U) leaders requested on condition of anonymity that Mandals averment must not be seen as the partys official line but a “personal opinion” of the MLA.
This is the second instance, in recent past, of the party facing an embarrassment over the maverick MLAs behaviour. A few weeks ago, another video had gone viral in which the MLA was seen gyrating alongside dancing girls.
BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand trained his guns at the JD(U) MLA over his remark that Pandey “did not look like a Brahmin”. “The remark betrays a caste-based complex (jaatiwadi kuntha)….. such utterances lead to social chasms. Parties swearing by social justice must conduct workshops for educating their cadre”, he said.
RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand, whose party is eyeing a return to the NDA fold, voiced disapproval of the “anargal bayaan” (nonsensical statement) and said leaders of parties must rein in their loose cannons. The Congress, meanwhile, chose to take a dig at the NDA over the episode.
“This is kharmaas (an inauspicious month as per Hindu calendar, which ends on Makar Sankranti). Let the period end and there will be a kharmandal (turmoil) in the NDA which would be hard to control”, said BPCC spokesman Rajesh Rathore. Rathores remark was an indirect reference to claims made by the RJD, its senior alliance partner in the state, about the possibility of NDA MLAs, mostly from the JD(U), crossing over to the Grand Alliance.
The RJD has been insisting that JD(U) MLAs were feeling stifled on account of its diminished clout in the NDA and an aggressive stance adopted by the BJP which has returned with a tally, in assembly polls, far greater than that of the chief minister’s party.