On Prez poll eve, Nitish silence feeds uneasy calm within Bihar’s ruling grand alliance
After RJD chief Lalu Prasad announced his son Tejashwi won’t resign as deputy CM, following a CBI FIR against him in the ‘land for railways hotels’ case, all eyes were on CM Nitish Kumar to make his next move.india Updated: Jul 16, 2017 19:55 IST
A day before voting in the presidential election, the JD (U)’s decision to back NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, as against the RJD support for Congress backed nominee Meira Kumar, remained the most visible sign of discord within Bihar’s ruling grand alliance.
Yet, it was by no means, the only discordant note emerging from the three-party alliance.
The alliance appeared to be staring at a crisis threatening its survival as the constituent parties appeared to go in different directions on issues having implications for its survival.
After RJD chief Lalu Prasad announced Saturday evening his son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav won’t resign as deputy CM, following a CBI FIR against him in the ‘land for railways hotels’ case, all eyes were on CM Nitish Kumar to make his next move.
As Kumar remained in a silent mode, JD-U state leaders continued to issued thinly-veiled warnings to the RJD leadership, citing Kumar’s uncompromising stance on corruption as his USP.
Said JD-U national spokesman KC Tyagi, “tell me one instance when Nitish Kumar has sought resignation of Tejashwi. But those facing charges should clarify their positions”. JD-U spokesman Ajay Alok advised, “Just wait, time will tell what happens next”.
For Kumar, the biggest challenge is that he is being tested against his own yardstick on corruption. As head of NDA governments (2005-13), he had his ministers quit office the moment they were found facing corruption charges. But those were different times.
Now, his deputy and leader of RJD, the largest GA constituent with 80 MLAs to JD (U)’s own 71 MLAs in the 243-member Bihar assembly, Tejashwi is in the eye of a storm over corruption charges but dislodging him is fraught with risk as the Nitish government needs RJD support to survive.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwari, who was earlier with the JD (U) but is close to the RJD at present, expressed surprise over the communication gap between the two major GA constituents.
“The alliance is stable right now, but the supporters of both the parties are despondent and disillusioned with the goings on. The communication gap will certainly harm both, leaving the opposition BJP smiling,” he said, as he emerged from Lalu Prasad’s house.
Tiwari said the CM should not treat the case of his deputy like that of Jitan Ram Manjhi or other ministers who had to quit when charges were brought against them.
“Today, Tejashwi has been named in the FIR, tomorrow the matter may go further. The best way is for the two senior leaders to talk to prevent a break up. They (Lalu and Nitish) call themselves elder and younger brother. I am the eldest and I request them to talk because that is the only way to break the impasse,” he added.
“Laluji will emerge as the Dhritrashtra of Kaliyug. He will sacrifice all the ministers for the sake of his son,” tweeted union minister Giriraj Singh,without elaborating. But RJD spokesman Manoj Jha refuted reports that GA was falling apart.
Amid the festering dispute, it was left to the Congress to make efforts to keep the coalition intact. Bihar Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh once again appealed for truce between the warring allies.
A senior RJD leader said: “You never know what will happen next, as the situation continues to be fluid. Be it for snapping ties or bringing truce, one of the two will have to take the initiative. And the decision will have wider ramifications.”