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JD(U) nomination withdrawal deadline extended, efforts for consensus
April 10, 2006 15:39 IST
Last Updated: April 10, 2006 20:37 IST
Last ditch efforts have been mounted to avert a contest in the battle for Janata Dal (United) presidentship in which Parliamentary Board chairman Sharad Yadav appears to have an edge over incumbent George Fernandes.
The returning officer for the poll extended the deadline for withdrawal of nominations this evening till Tuesday morning to allow senior leaders some time to work out a compromise.
"The deadline for withdrawal of nominations has been extended till the national council meeting begins Tuesday. The meeting is slated to start at 11 am," JD(U) national spokesman Shambhu Shrivastwa told PTI after the original deadline for withdrawal of nominations expired at 6 pm Monday.
"Efforts are on for evolving a consensus to avert a contest. The deadline has been extended to allow that consensus to evolve," Shrivastwa said after neither contestant turned up at the party office to withdraw his papers and returning officer for the election Anil Hegde avoided the media.
Seven sets of nominations have been filed on behalf of Yadav, while four have been submitted in favour of Fernandes. If voting takes place at the national council meeting of the party, which begins Tuesday, it would be for the first time that there will be a contest for the party's top post.
Fernandes was the leader of the Samata Party, which was formed in 1994, when 14 MPs of the undivided Janata Dal parted ways with their leader Sharad Yadav, who was backed then by Lalu Prasad Yadav. When their relations soured, however, Lalu Yadav formed the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 1996. When the JD(U) merged with the Samata Party in 2003, Fernandes became its president.
There are 1000-odd members in the national council. According to party insiders, Sharad Yadav is being supported by the JD(U) Parliamentary party, which is headed by Prabhunath Singh and its Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh units.
On the other hand, party units in Maharashtra and the southern states are staunchly supporting Fernandes, whose relations with Nitish Kumar have come under severe strain ever since he was made to shift his Parliamentary constituency from Nalanda to Muzaffarpur.
Nitish Kumar contested both from Barh and Nalanda in the 2004 Parliamentary elections, but could win only from the latter. The relations between Kumar and Fernandes further soured when Kumar did not pay heed to the latter's request for accommodating former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitley in March's Rajya Sabha elections from Bihar.
Sources close to Nitish Kumar said the two leaders did not meet even once during the Bihar chief minister's recent stay in Delhi.
While Sharad Yadav has already arrived in Patna to mobilise support, Fernandes is still away in Delhi, but his pointsman and former Union minister Digvijay Singh is trying to garner support for Fernandes.
More news: Bihar