Congress pitches in to broker peace amid RJD, JD(U) spat over Tejashwi resignation | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Congress pitches in to broker peace amid RJD, JD(U) spat over Tejashwi resignation

Sources said the Congress top brass has held talks with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, to thrash out an amicable solution to tide over the impasse and save the grand alliance government. 

india Updated: Jul 12, 2017 20:41 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Cong is believed to have started back channel talks to bring Lalu Prasad and Kumar on the negotiating table.
Cong is believed to have started back channel talks to bring Lalu Prasad and Kumar on the negotiating table. (HT file photo)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday and thanked him for backing Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the unanimous choice of 18 opposition parties for the August 5 vice-presidential polls.

The Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi, too called Kumar on Tuesday, sources said.

Speculation swirled after the phone call that the Congress was trying to broker peace between Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and partner Rashtriya Janata Dal, which is facing corruption allegations.

The three parties are part of Bihar’s ruling alliance that defeated the BJP in the 2015 polls. The Congress has 27 legislators against the RJD’s 80 and JD(U)’s 71 in the assembly.

The coalition is going through tense times amid calls to sack deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, who along with father Lalu Prasad is accused of having a role in a land-for-hotels scandal that saw the CBI raiding their homes and other properties last week.

Sources said the Congress top brass called chief minister Kumar and Prasad for resolving the crisis amicably and save the government.

There are indications that Kumar will meet Gandhi the next time he visits Delhi.

“The cases against Prasad are politically motivated. The government is trying to corner him for political reasons,” said an aide close to the Congress leader.

Sources said Kumar spoke to the Congress chief and deputy chief, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, on the JD(U)’s decision to back Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the opposition’s candidate for the next Indian vice president.

Rahul Gandhi reportedly thanked the chief minister for his support.

Kumar’s senior party colleague, Sharad Yadav, attended an 18-party meeting to pick the vice-presidential candidate. The BJP-led NDA has yet to announce its nominee.

Ties between Kumar and the Congress had turned frosty too after the JD(U) leader, an ally of the BJP for more than a decade till 2013, backed the NDA’s pick for the next President’s post, Ram Nath Kovind.

He also chose to send a representative for the midnight launch of the goods and service tax, an event the Congress had boycotted.

Congress leaders and the JD(U) traded barbs after Kumar’s support to Kovind, but Gandhi’s intervention stopped the spat from getting ugly.

Sources said Kumar informed the Congress leadership that he won’t let the Bihar alliance break, but was not happy with the way the RJD is handling the situation after the CBI raids.

The RJD is firm on its stand that Tejashwi will not resign, saying the allegations are politically motivated.

The Congress leadership is said to have left it to the chief minister to decide on the growing call to sack Tejashwi. The party also stated that RJD chief Prasad is equally important because of his sustained campaign to unite opposition parties against the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

“Congress does not want any confrontation between allies and wants unity in the coalition,” said a senior party leader in the state.

(With inputs from HTC New Delhi and agencies)