Rift in Bihar Grand Alliance widens as JD(U) asks Tejashwi to reply to graft charges or face axe
The crack in the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) in Bihar widened after the on Saturday when the JD(U) made it clear that the CM would not compromise on his demand that Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav furnishes a response to each of the graft charges levelled against him by the CBI.
JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi on Friday said that ‘Kumar will never compromise on the issue of corruption’. "Nitish Kumar's stand on corruption is well known. He will never compromise on it."
Lalu, in defence of his son, said on Friday that Tejashwi will not resign as the deputy CM and that he had replied on the corruption charges several times and he would do so before the CBI and ED when the agencies ask him to.
On Saturday, Tejashwi skipped an official function with Kumar in Patna, signalling deepening of crisis in the ruling Grand Alliance of which Congress is also a member. The name plaque of Tejashwi Yadav was first covered with a piece of cloth and soon removed from the dais.
This was the first public event where Nitish and Tejashwi had to share the dais since the CBI raids on Lalu family on July 7 in connection with a land-for-railways hotels case.
The JD(U) also attacked RJD supremo Lalu Yadav on Saturday with the party general secretary Shyam Rajak saying that he shouldn’t be evasive about corruption charges against him and his family members. “If allegations of corruption have been made against Lalu's family members, they must reply to the charges properly,” Rajak was quoted by Times of India as saying.
JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh advised Lalu to stand with the Grand Alliance during the ongoing "crisis". "Nitish ji has never compromised with his ideology. Hence, Lalu should also follow the coalition dharma and stand with us at the time of such crisis," Singh said.
Nitish Kumar has called a meeting of party MLAs at his official residence in Patna today. Keeping the current political scenario in the mind, sources told India TV that a ‘final’ decision on his deputy Tejashwi Yadav’s fate is likely to be taken at the meet.
However, party insiders said that the meeting has been convened to discuss the presidential election, slated for July 17.
Also the four-day deadline set by the JD(U) for RJD to clear the air over corruption charges against Tejashwi, son of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, is ending today.
Meanwhile, Lalu Yadav has also called a meeting of the party’s lawmakers in Patna today. While the meeting agenda is Monday’s presidential polls, the party is believed to discuss on the ongoing rift in the Grand Alliance over Tejashwi.
The RJD has claimed that the CBI action against Tejashwi is a political conspiracy to destabilize Bihar's ruling Grand Alliance and "Nitish Kumar knew about it". Nitish has yet to say anything directly to media on the issue.
The BJP, which has 53 seats in the Assembly, has been demanding the resignation of Tejashwi following the FIR and even questioned the integrity of Nitish over his stated stand of maintaining zero tolerance against corruption. Earlier this week, Nitish had chaired a crucial meeting of JD(U) MLAs, office bearers and district chiefs. Putting the ball in the court of RJD, the party in a terse message to Lalu asked his son to ‘defend accusations in public with facts’.
Earlier this month, the CBI conducted raids across four cities in a corruption case in which Lalu's wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav are among the accused. The case relates to alleged manipulation in award of contract for maintenance of two hotels run by a subsidiary of the Indian Railways - IRCTC -- when the RJD chief was Railways Minister in the United Progressive Alliance government.