New Delhi, Apr.21 (ANI): Veteran socialist leader and erstwhile president of the Janata Dal (United), George Fernandes, has complained bitterly about the incumbent party leadership for sidelining him and preventing him from voicing concerns about issues pertaining to Bihar in particular, and the nation overall.
In an article appearing in "The Other Side", a journal of socialist thought and action, Fernandes says: "I was removed by a conspiratorial group in a broad attack against inner party democracy. The Chief Minister (of Bihar) (Nitish Kumar) continues to address me as the party's guardian, but does not communicate with me at all."
Fernandes, who has won nine Lok Sabha elections, is contesting in Muzaffarpur as an Independent, despite being the convener of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.
Denied a ticket by the Janata Dal (United) on health grounds, the party's leaders Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have refused to heed the BJP's pleas that Fernandes be accommodated.
By contesting in Muzaffarpur, Fernandes is waging a political battle against Kumar and his acolytes.
"I'm the NDA convener and I've been denied a ticket. Mr. Kumar is an autocrat," Fernandes says.
Fernandes' insult has become a political issue. The JD (U)'s leaders don't refer to him at all and the party is on the back foot on this issue not only in the constituency, but across Bihar as well.
Last Friday, JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav was heckled at a meeting in Aurai in Muzaffarpur for wanting to address the gathering seated in a chair on account of back pain.
The crowd questioned his action in denying ticket to Fernandes when he himself felt "unfit."
People in the crowd engaged Yadav in a heated exchange of words.
What does Fernandes have to say to all this?
"I have been raising issues of national importance as well as those pertaining to Bihar. We raised the issue of one rank, one pension scheme (for the armed forces), the return of Indian money in Swiss accounts, relief for the unorganized sector, and wages for imams and matters of morality in politics. I was one among the few to have taken up the issue of harassment meted to workers from Bihar and UP with Raj Thackeray in February 2008," said Fernandes.
Fernandes further goes on to say that when party leaders sought his resignation, he willingly agreed and signed the resignation letter, but advised that the party's Rajya Sabha members should also resign. It was then that conspiracy of the "power hungry leaders was unraveled," he said.
He said that this year JD (U) president Sharad Yadav visited him at his residence and told him he could contest from any seat that he wished, including Muzaffarpur. Chief Minister Kumar also phoned to say that he would accompany him (Fernandes) during the filing of nomination.
"Suddenly, I received a letter from the party president rejecting my candidature for election. A massive propaganda offensive was launched highlighting the status of my health. Most of the people, who are showing their utmost concern for my wellbeing, don't have the courtesy to pay a visit to me. The conspiratorial group put up another name as the official candidate from this (Muzaffarpur) Lok Sabha seat. This man is a known party hopper and is as old as I am. It is such politics of Bihar that is getting terminally ill," claimed Fernandes.
He says in his article that he decided to contest the polls due to popular demand.
"I have to submit to the popular will. In a democracy, the vox populi has primacy... Age cannot be the sole criterion to amputee wisdom from people's causes. In our tradition, the older generation is considered to be the epitome of wisdom, but these conspiratorial leaders do not concern themselves with high principles. They believe in destroying the moral foundations of politics," says Fernandes.
He concludes by saying that he decided to contest because a " sick polity is in need of healthy political thought and action".
The people of Muzaffarpur, he says, are strong enough to "destroy every form of dictatorship". (ANI)