Patna: Unhappy over being denied party tickets to contest the Lok Sabha elections, half a dozen leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar have joined either the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Congress in the last one week.
Among the prominent leaders to leave the RJD are party chief Lalu Prasad's brother-in-law Sadhu Anirudh Prasad Yadav, who is also the MP from Gopalganj and Giridhari Yadav, the MP from Banka.
The defection of senior party leaders is seen as a political setback to Lalu Prasad ahead of the April-May parliamentary poll, as it is the first time that senior leaders have left the party.
A senior RJD leader said that never before had RJD leaders left to join other parties. "It is a bad sign for Lalu (Prasad)," the leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Sadhu Yadav, who represents Gopalganj--the home district of Lalu Prasad and his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi--joined the Congress on Tuesday, along with Giridhari Yadav and former Bihar minister and Dalit leader Ramai Ram. Ram was keen to contest from the Hajipur seat.
Another senior RJD leader and former minister Rama Devi also resigned from the party and joined the BJP. She would contest the Lok Sabha election from the East Champaran constituency. Rama Devi had won the Motihari Lok Sabha seat in 1998 on a RJD ticket.
RJD's Jai Prakash Nishad and Magni Lal Mandal Wednesday announced they were joining the JD-U, a day after the RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan announced a seat-sharing agreement in Bihar.
As per the seat sharing formula worked out for Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats by the United Progressive Alliance, 25 will go to the RJD, 12 to the LJP, and the remaining three to the Congress.
The names of Nishad and Mandal did not figure in RJD's list of candidates.
There is speculation that more RJD leaders would desert the party and join the JD-U, BJP or the Congress to contest polls.