CBI raids give Nitish more leverage over weakened Lalu, bigger say in GA affairs
The possibility of an immediate break in the grand alliance (GA) appeared bleak, as the RJD was left with little political wherewithal to flex its muscles within the ruling GA, giving CM Kumar a free hand to run Bihar.india Updated: Jul 07, 2017 20:46 IST
The CBI raids at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi New Delhi and Puri, pertaining to leasing out of two railway hotels to Patna based businessmen in 2006 by then railway minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, has left the RJD’s first family red faced, but has its also put a question mark on the longevity of the grand alliance government in Bihar?.
Those in the know of affairs of the ruling grand alliance (GA) said there were possibilities of JD (U) and RJD ties being strained further with the BJP targeting CM Nitish Kumar over his corruption-tainted ally, thereby putting his good governance plank under scrutiny.
Kumar will be under more pressure as the BJP presses its demand for voluntary resignation by or sacking by the CM, of deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and health minister Tej Pratap Yadav, both sons of Lalu Prasad, following cases registered against them.
Apart from Tejashwi being named as an in the context of Friday’s CBI raids, Tej Pratap has come under a cloud as promoter of a mall coming up on two acres of land in western Patna, allegedly given by the businessmen against hotels’ leases.
The JD (U) played it safe on Friday morning, refraining from giving any statement even as Kumar was ‘recuperating from illness,” at Rajgir, a tourist spot in his native district, Nalanda.
With Lalu and family members implicated in criminal cases, Nitish is walking a tight rope and will now be pressurised more by the BJP to off load the corruption baggage of RJD and break the alliance,” said a grand alliance leader.
BJP leader Sushil Modi, on Friday, credited Nitish’s JD (U) for exposing the railway hotel allotment discrepancies in 2008. Some saw this as a sign of BJP attempts to ‘woo’ Kumar back in the NDA fold, ahead of the 2019 parliamentary polls.
Insiders in GA, however, said the possibility of an immediate break in the alliance was ‘bleak’ considering the RJD was left with little political wherewithal to flex its muscles within the GA coalition, leaving CM Kumar to run Bihar in whatever manner he wished.
“There is no threat to GA government,” claimed RJD state spokesperson Ashok Kumar Sinha. While this may be true, a weakened Lalu may imply his party, the RJD, may have a lesser say in the matters of governance in the days to come.
A section of RJD leaders felt Nitish, knowing the dictatorial streak in the present BJP leadership, would never take the risk of crossing over to NDA’s side. Instead of rocking the GA government in Bihar, he would prefer consolidating his position as a viable opposition face to be PM candidate in the 2019 LS polls.
The CBI raids have also cast a long shadow on the RJD’s proposed August 27 rally in Patna christened, ‘BJP bhagao , desh bachao’ rally, at which Lalu was expected to give clarion call to all opposition parties to unite to take on the saffron brigade in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha called the CBI raids an act of vendetta by the BJP led NDA government at the centre, to ‘silence the parties opposed to the BJP. “But will fight it out till the end. We won’t be cowed down by BJP’s dirty tricks and penchant to misuse investigating agencies to silence those opposed to it”, he said.
As the RJD braced up to portray the CBI raids as politically motivated, many in the party wondered if this was enough to deflect public attention from the ignominy of its top leadership allegedly holding benaami assets worth hundreds of crores.
With the RJD boss and his family seemingly i trouble, doubts were being raised within the RJD whether Lalu’s proposed grand show, the rally on August 27, would turn out to be as grand as was being planned.
Two days back, Lalu himself had made a possibly ‘prophetic’ statement, telling RJD workers the show must go on even if he landed in jail before the rally date. “The BJP is planning to send me to jail. But the rally must continue,” he had said, at the RJD’s foundation day event.