New Delhi/Patna: Marking a deep rift in the party, the Nitish Kumar faction on Saturday removed senior leader and former party president Sharad Yadav as head of its parliamentary party in the Rajya Sabha, and replaced him with Ram Chandra Prasad Singh.
JD-U spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan confirmed the removal of Sharad Yadav to media.
The decision was taken a day after the party suspended its rebel MP Ali Anwar Ansari from the parliamentary party, for taking part in a meeting of opposition parties convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday.
Ansari along with Yadav expressed differences with party President Nitish Kumar's decision to snap ties with the Grand Alliance of Congress and RJD and form a government in Bihar with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Speaking in Bihar's Madhepura district, Sharad Yadav hit out at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, saying the party is not Kumar's alone but belonged to him too.
"JD-U sirf Nitish Kumar ki hi party nahi hai, yeh meri bhi party hai," Sharad Yadav said on the last day of his three-day Samvad Yatra to meet people and interact with them. He told them of his displeasure and pain over Nitish Kumar's decision to break the Grand Alliance of JD-U, RJD and Congress and join hands with the BJP and form a new government.
Nitish Kumar is the Janata Dal-United national president and said to fully control the party in Bihar. "There are two JD-Us in Bihar, one is sarkari (official) and another is janata (of the people). All the party legislators, leaders, who are close to the government for personal benefit are with Nitish Kumar, but leaders and workers close to the people are with me," Sharad Yadav said.
He refused to comment on the JD-U decision to replace him as the parliamentary party leader.
Sharad Yadav, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, said when he had "not been afraid of Indira Gandhi, what do others matter".
"I am not afraid of any one to speak the truth and stand by my principles," he said in reference to his fight against the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in the mid 70s, when he was a student leader close to Jayaprakash Narayan, who led the movement that ousted Indira Gandhi from power for the first time in 1977.
Sharad Yadav said action has been taken against a few leaders of the party "who are standing with me", and leaders close to Nitish Kumar have been threatening other JD-U leaders supporting him.
Sharad Yadav reiterated that he is still with the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) that was given a mandate by 11 crore people in Bihar in the 2015 assembly polls to rule for five years.
"The decision to join hands with the BJP and form a government in Bihar was against the mandate given in the 2015 assembly polls."
He said it was the people who had made the Grand Alliance of RJD, JD-U and Congress in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls and given their mandate to rule for five years. "People's mandate was against the BJP-led NDA," he said.
In New Delhi, JD-U rebel MP Ali Anwar Ansari, who was suspended from the parliamentary party for taking part in a meeting of opposition parties, said the Sharad Yadav-led faction is the "real JD-U" and there was no question of leaving the party.
"There is no question of leaving the party (JD-U). We founded the party. Sharad Yadav-led faction is the real JD-U while the other one has become a 'Sarkari JD-U' and Bharatiya JD-(U)," Ansari said while briefing mediapersons.
"We are the real one as we are still with the principles of the JD-U, but they have changed and become BJD-U," he added, in a jibe at the Nitish Kumar faction which has sided with the BJP to form the government in Bihar.
Hitting out at Kumar, Anwar said that people who brought the party to its glory were being "removed" from party posts.
Ansari said that everyone, be it opposition parties, social leaders or anyone with human values, should unite against the "divisive forces" (BJP and RSS).
He added that this was not a personal fight against Nitish Kumar but a fight of principles and to save democracy and brotherhood.
"Yesterday (Friday) they suspended me from the parliamentary party. Today (Saturday), they removed Sharad Yadav, who was the founding member of JD-U, from the leadership of the parliamentary party. We are not going to get cowed down by such threats. We will fight till the end and go to the masses," said Ansari.