Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal United has expelled the state’s Industry Minister Shyam Razak amid reports of his decision to resign from the party. The Governor has accepted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s recommendation to drop him from the cabinet.
Sources said that Mr Razak is all set to join the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal, the party of Lalu Yadav, which is now led by his son Tejashwi Yadav. The decision of Nitish Kumar’s party to drop him from the ministry has only cemented his resolution, sources said.
Assembly elections in Bihar are roughly three months away and Lalu Yadav’s party plans to make a bid for power, contending that Nitish Kumar has subverted the mandate of the people.
After winning the elections in 2015 in alliance with the RJD and the Congress, Mr Kumar had dropped his two allies midway and joined the BJP — the ally he dropped ahead of the 2014 assembly elections after Narendra Modi was named the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate.
Sources said Mr Razak was unhappy over his growing marginalisation within the government and party.
On the party front, Mr Razak was getting increasing signals that he might be dropped in the next assembly elections. RCP Singh, who is considered number two in the party, was backing another Dalit leader, Arun Manjhi, as a probable candidate.
Mr Razak also wanted the removal of his Principal Secretary S Sidharth — a request which the Chief Minister never entertained.
Mr Kumar was also upset with Mr Razak over his increasingly defiant stance on the issues of Dalits — reservation and the law involving their protection — on which he used to target the NDA government at the Centre.
Mr Razak was the brain behind the meetings of all Dalit legislators over this issue, which deeply embarrassed the BJP. Later, the RJD legislators formed a parallel committee on this issue.
The Election Commission is yet to take a final call on poll dates in view of the coronavirus pandemic and has sought suggestions from political parties. The tenure of the current Assembly ends on November 29.