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|January 6, 1998||
Laloo puts UF leaders in a tizzy
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The bitter rivalry between Rashtriya Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav and senior Janata Dal leader H D Deve Gowda is causing great apprehension in the multi-party United Front.
Laloo Yadav is deriving much pleasure in pulling away Union Textiles Minister R L Jalappa from the UF. Capitalising on the minister's bitter fight with Deve Gowda, the RJD has already asked him to join hands. And indications are that Jalappa would jump on the Laloo bandwagon very shortly.
Deve Gowda, for his part, is not ready to back down: His response to Laloo's attempts was a request to the UF leadership to stand by him in his battle with Jalappa.
Significantly, Laloo Yadav is not the only person whom Deve Gowda has irked during his prime ministership. There are other JD leaders too, who found him unbearingly offensive, and they are learnt to have assured Jalappa they would back him.
UF office-bearers admitted that if Jalappa joined Laloo Yadav's secular front, they would be confronted with the problem of having four 'outsiders' (RJD ministers) in the government.
For his part, Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral has kept a low profile and appears heavily reluctant to involve himself in the Laloo Yadav-Deve Gowda stand-off.
Another factor that has the UF worried stiff is that both Janata Dal president Sharad Yadav and Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan -- who, along with Deve Gowda form the JD troika -- owe their victories to Laloo Yadav. And now that they are with Deve Gowda, the RJD president has vowed to strike back during the general election: for Paswan, he has promised to find a strong opposer, while he would personally take on Sharad Yadav from the Madhepura constituency, from where the JD president has been elected twice.
Though both Sharad Yadav and Paswan have put up a brave front and are saying they are unconcerned, Laloo Yadav's challenge has instilled much trepidation in them.
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