In a blow to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a legislator of his party Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Sarfaraz Alam on Saturday resigned ahead of the Araria Lok Sabha bypoll next month. Alam is the JD(U) MLA from Jokihat in Araria district of Bihar. He was considered to be an aspirant to contest the Araria bypoll on a JD(U) ticket, that was vacated following the death of his father Mohammad Taslimuddin, a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP.
“It is a set back for Nitish Kumar. Congress and RJD will fight together in Araria,” said Shivanand Tiwari, vice president, RJD. "JD(U) assured Alam they will give him the ticket for the byelection but the discontent, especially among leaders coming from minority community, is running so high that no one wants stay with the JD(U) anymore."
While the development may not come as a surprise to many considering that RJD is the party of Alam’s father, behind the scenes a lot of attempts had been made to dissuade Alam from leaving the JD(U). Alam got many calls from top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including from PM Narendra Modi's office, claimed a senior RJD leader on the condition of anonymity. Sarfaraz has also made similar claims, saying that he was called by top BJP leaders, persuading him to not leave JD(U).
"It is certain that I will contest Araria bypoll but people of the constituency will decide from which party I will contest," Alam told the media. He said he resigned due to pressure from people. "I have acted in line with the sentiments of people of my constituency."
Soon after he resigned, Alam met Rabri Devi, former Chief Minister and wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav at her official residence 10, Circular Road in Patna. After meeting her, Alam said it was just a courtesy call and there was nothing more to it.
However, soon after Alam resigned from the JD(U), Leader of Opposition in the Bihar assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in a tweet said one more legislator of Nitish Kumar had resigned and that more may follow suit.
JD(U), on the other hand, claimed that the seat belongs to RJD and that is why they would not contest. "We will not field our candidate," said Neeraj Singh, JD(U) Bihar spokesperson.
According to leaders close to Alam, JD(U)’s ally BJP will contest the Araria bypoll and JD(U) does not have guts to challenge this.
In 2016, Alam hit the headlines as he was suspended from the JD-U for allegedly misbehaving with a couple on a running train. Later, he was even arrested but released on bail.
With IANS inputs.