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Bihar assembly elections: Stage set for Sharad Yadav’s return to Janata Dal (United)

New Delhi: Sharad Yadav might come back to the Janata Dal (United) fold before the Bihar assembly elections, people close to the former JD(U) national president said.

Several senior party leaders including chief minister Nitish Kumar have called and spoken to Yadav in the last few days, paving the way for his return, they said.

Yadav had left JD(U) in 2017 after the party under Kumar moved away from the grand alliance with RJD and Congress, and joined BJP to form the new government. In May 2018, he formed his own party Loktantrik Janata Dal. But in 2019 he contested Lok Sabha elections from Madhepura on RJD ticket and lost.

Yadav was admitted in a Gurgaon hospital for the past one month and got discharged on Sunday.

JD(U) principal secretary general K C Tyagi called Yadav while he was in hospital, people close to Yadav said. Tyagi also facilitated a talk between the chief minister and Yadav’s wife. Later Kumar also spoke to Yadav. The talks have been taken forward by Bihar cabinet minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav on behalf of Kumar, they said.

JD(U) leaders neither confirmed Yadav’s proposed return to the party nor denied it.

“Sharad ji was keeping unwell and it was just a courtesy call by me and Kumar to check on his wellbeing,” Tyagi told ET.

JD(U) spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan said there shouldn’t be any surprise if Yadav returned. “Sharad ji is an old socialist leader and has been feeling uneasiness in the grand alliance. No one should be surprised if any such development takes place,” he told ET.

As per sources close to Yadav, there are multiple reasons for him to consider returning to JD(U).

For one, he could return to the Rajya Sabha and retain his official residence in Delhi. Yadav was disqualified as Rajya Sabha member in December 2017. He had challenged the disqualification in the Delhi High Court and the case is still pending. The Supreme Court has allowed him to retain his official residence till the case is decided. His membership was to end in July 2022.

Also, Yadav has not been getting attention from RJD in recent times, people close to him said. while several JD(U) leaders have called him recently to enquire about his health, no one from RJD has called him, they said.

Even in 2019, when the RJD gave three to five tickets to parties of Upendra Kushwaha, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mukesh Sahani, “we were given two tickets and that too on RJD symbol”, a person close to Yadav told ET. “Even during the recent Rajya Sabha elections, Sharad ji was ignored for some unknown names from RJD.”

Return of the 73-year-old leader has a lot of symbolic value for JD(U) in the wake of upcoming assembly elections.

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