As Bihar RJD-JD(U) standoff continues, deputy CM Tejashwi skips CM Nitish function
The impasse has arisen from the JD (U) demand that Tejashwi resign from the cabinet in wake of the CBI filing an FIR against him in ‘land for railway hotels’ scam and the RJD’s rejection of that demand.india Updated: Jul 18, 2017 23:25 IST
PATNA The ongoing standoff between ruling Grand Alliance partners, the RJD and JD(U), found expression when RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav avoided sharing a dais with chief minister Nitish Kumar, at a government function here on Saturday.
The standoff between the two allies has arisen from the JD(U) leadership’s demand that Tejashwi should resign from the council of ministers in the wake of the CBI filing an FIR against him in what is known as ‘land for railway hotels’ scam and the RJD leadership’s rejection of that demand.
At the labour department’s World Youth Skills Day function on Saturday, the name plate of the deputy chief minister, who was to participate in it as chief guest, was first covered with a piece of cloth and then removed as soon as it was confirmed that Yadav had made his mind to skip the official function.
A plaque bearing Tejashwi’s name, which was arranged, along with that of the chief minister, on the dais at the newly constructed Gyan Bhawan venue, was hurriedly taken away before the function commenced formally in the presence of labour minister Vijay Prakash, a minister from the RJD quota.
Organised to mark the completion of an eventful year that saw the enrolment of 1.13 lakh and passing out of 43,000 youths under the aegis of Bihar Skill Development Mission, the function was slated to be inaugurated by the chief minister.
The absence of Tejashwi fuelled speculation that the tiff between the two allies was no closer to an early resolution. The RJD Legislature Party has spurned the JD(U)’s demand that the deputy CM should come clean on the CBI charges against him or step down to uphold GA’s ‘zero tolerance policy on corruption’.
A remark by JD(U) general secretary Shyam Rajak, early Saturday, appeared to add fuel to fire. In response to RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s assertion, on Friday evening, that the GA was intact and Tejashwi would not resign, Rajak said Prasad was making unwarranted statements as “he has grown old”.
There was speculation in political circles if Rajak’s unflattering remark about his father became the tipping point for Tejashwi to skip the function. Tejashwi, who was picked over his elder brother Tej Pratap by the RJD patriarch to don the mantle of deputy CM, and Tej had attended the cabinet meeting, chaired by the chief minister, on July 12.
Kumar, who was sitting with JD(U) ministers on his one side and the lone RJD minister on the other, decided to exchange his seating position with water resources minister Lalan Singh during the course of the programme. This brought Singh between him and the RJD minister.
Though the CM pointed to the overhead airconditioner duct for the seat change, moving one chair further from the RJD minister was read by many of those present as another expression of the growing distance between the JD(U) and RJD.
For his part, labour minister Vijay Prakash (RJD) thanked both, the CM and deputy CM, for their support and guidance.
The anchor of the function provided more fodder for speculation by taking the name of Ashok Choudhary, PCC chief and education minister, as one of the invitees. Choudhary was absent from the function.
While AICC chief Sonia Gandhi is learnt to be making last ditch efforts to broker peace between the two warring allies, her party is widely seen to have veered closer to the RJD after it announced its support for Congress’ Presidential nominee Meira Kumar. The JD(U), on the other hand, is supporting NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
GROWING DISTANCE Name plate of the deputy chief minister, who was to participate in the event as chief guest, was first covered with a piece of cloth and then removed
as soon as it was confirmed that Yadav had made his mind to skip the official function
Kumar, who was sitting with JD(U) ministers on his one side and the lone RJD minister on the other, decided to exchange his seating position with water resources minister Lalan Singh during the course of the programme. This brought Singh between him and the RJD minister