Amidst the speculation of Bihar Industry Minister and Janata Dal United MLA Shyam Rajak switching over to Rashtriya Janata Dal, Rajak was removed from cabinet on the recommendation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. On the other hand, JD-U’s state chief Vashishtha Narayan Singh expelled Rajak from the party for six years as well.
“Shyam Rajak’s recent actions were nothing less than an act of indiscipline. He was involved in anti-party activities. So the party decided to take this action against him. Nobody is above the party. I welcome the party’s decision of expelling him,” JD-U spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan told ANI.
According to sources, the minister was to submit his resignation on Monday. JD-U initially tried to placate Rajak; however, when it became clear that he was in no mood to reconsider the decision, the party, in a face-saving act, get rid of him. Shyam Rajak belongs to a scheduled caste whose role is said to be very crucial in the upcoming Bihar Assembly election.
Before JD-U, Rajak used to be a trusted lieutenant of Lalu Yadav who is credited for nurturing him into politics. Rajak quickly won the trust of Nitish Kumar after shifting to the JDU in 2009. However, when Nitish Kumar joined hands with Lalu Yadav for 2015 assembly election and Grand Alliance government was formed, Lalu rein in to defy Rajak the ministerial berth in spite of JD-U’s strong support for him.
Political observers are of the view that the primary reason for Rajak’s decision to leave the party is the mood of his Muslim majority constituency—Phulwari—which has turned strongly against JD-U after the party voted in favor of Citizenship Amendment Bill. Rajak’s tie with the party has been strained for some time.
On the other hand, aware of the circumstances, Nitish Kumar too, was preparing his party for this move. Nitish has been cultivating Ashok Chaudhary, a scheduled caste leader since he switched to JD-U from Congress on March 1, 2018. Few months before joining the JD-U, Chaudhary was heading the state unit of Congress. However, political observers are of the view that Chaudhary is not considered as an influential community leader as Rajak.
On the other hand, if Rajak joins RJD, he is likely to consolidate his vote bank as Muslims strongly back Lalu Yadav’s party.