Paswan finally splits JD(United)
HT Correspondent
(New Delhi, November 26)

THE JANATA Dal (United) in the Lok Sabha split on Sunday night with Union Communications Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and three other party MPs requesting Speaker G M C Balayogi to recognise them as a separate group in the House.

The split in the 10-member JD (U) in the Lok Sabha coincided with the meeting here of the parent party's National Executive under Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav. Having already announced his decision to form a new political outfit, Mr Paswan did not attend the party meet. Speaking to The Hindustan Times, Mr Paswan said he met Mr Balayogi this evening along with three other JD(U) MPs.

"All of us gave him in writing our request for recognition as a separate group under the name Jan Shakti," the Communications Minister said. Elected from Roshera in Bihar, Mr Ram Chander Paswan is the Communication Minister's younger brother.

Mr Paswan said he would be making a formal announcement about the formation of the new party at a rally in Delhi next Tuesday.

He claimed that the truncated JD(U) would cease to be a force in Bihar from now on: "The politics of the State would be determined by us and Laloo Yadav and not those occupying positions in the JD(U).

The formal communication for recognition as a separate group in the Lok Sabha was sent by Mr Paswan to the Speaker this afternoon.

Sources in the Lok Sabha secretariat confirmed tonight that the four MPs had met Mr Balayogi. But there was no formal word about Mr Balayogi's response to their request.

Earlier in the day, it was decided not to make any hasty move like expelling Paswan immediately.

The party leadership is apparently of the opinion that the rebel leader should not be allowed to don the halo of a 'martyr' and derive advantage by being thrown out of the JD(U) at a time when he himself is intent on cutting loose from it. Party chief Sharad Yadav too appears keen to avoid any possibility of being blamed for yet another split in the Janata 'parivar'.

JD(U) general secretary M. Raghupathy stated that though the presidents of several state units of the party had expressed anger at Paswan's behaviour and demanded his expulsion, "that move will not come from us". His exit from the party would have no great repercussion upon it as it was quite strong on its own, he emphasised while pointing out that seven out 10 JD(U) MPs, 30 legislators and 22 state unit chiefs had attended today's National Executive meeting.

Paswan had earlier stated that he would drop his plan to float another party if Yadav stepped down from the JD(U) president's post and installed Hegde in his place.

But Yadav is in no mood for any such formula to keep the party intact. Mohan Prakash stated that a mistaken impression had been created yesterday that Yadav had offered to step down in the interest of party unity.

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