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Amid RJD-JD(U) back channel talks, Nitish to take a call on Tejashwi

The younger son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad has been named in a CBI FIR in connection with ‘land for railways hotels’ scam, in which hotels were leased out to private parties in lieu of land given by them as quid pro quo.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2017 13:24 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
CM Nitish call,Tejashwi fate,CBI FIR
Political temperature appeared to shoot up as CM Nitish Kumar returned to Patna, from Rajgir, on Sunday. (Santosh/HT photo)

PATNA Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s return to state capital on a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon, after a four-day ‘rest and recuperation’ trip to the resort town of Rajgir, about 100 km south east of the state capital, set the political temperature in Bihar soaring.

Speculation in political circles was fired by a report suggesting that ‘back channel parleys’ had been initiated between leaders of ruling grand alliance constituents, the RJD and JD(U), to find a mutually acceptable response to the situation arising out of naming of deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, in a FIR filed by the CBI.

Tejashwi, younger son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, has been named in a CBI FIR in connection with what has come to be known as ‘land for railways hotels’ scam, in which hotels were leased out to private parties who allegedly transferred valuable land as quid pro quo to entities which in turn gave it to Lalu’s family members.

Following Friday’s CBI raids on Lalu’s Patna home and other places, the opposition BJP has been pressing CM Kumar to drop Tejashwi from his ministry, citing instances from Nitish headed NDA rule in Bihar (2005-13) when those who were named in criminal cases had been made to resign.

Late afternoon on Sunday, top sources indicated two senior leaders of the RJD had met Parliamentary Affairs minister Shrawan Kumar earlier in the day to initiate ‘back channel talk’ to find a way out of the ticklish situation created by the FIR naming Tejashwi.

Shravan Kumar did not take calls on his mobile phone to confirm or deny that backchannel talks had been initiated.

The matter has turned tricky, with the BJP pressuring CM Kumar to show whether his ‘zero tolerance policy on corruption’ applied to the Tejashwi case.

The RJD emissaries are reported to have tried to impress upon JD (U) leadership to accept the line that the CBI FIR against Yadav should be accepted as ‘politically motivated’ case, instead of being treated as a direct case of corruption.

The ‘talks’ came ahead of an important meeting of the RJD legislature party on Monday, at which 80 RJD MLAs, the biggest party block in the 243-member Bihar assembly, will take stock of the situation and decide their next course of action.

The RJD’s meeting will precede JD (U) district presidents' scheduled meeting with party national president and CM Nitish Kumar, on Tuesday.

The JD (U) has now invited party MLAs and MLCs to the meet to take a view on naming of Tejashwi in the CBI FIR and his expressed disinclination to resign on his own, at this stage.

To put pressure on an image conscious Kumar, the BJP has cited the cases of resignation of several ministers, including Jitan Ram Manjhi, (who later became CM), who was dropped within 4-hours of his induction into the ministry in 2005 for figuring in a vigilance case.

Among the way out options being presented by the RJD leaders is for the CM to accept that the case against Tejashwi was “politically motivated” and did not call for an expeditious call on his resignation as deputy CM.

However, if the CM was found to have made up his mind to adopt a hard line and wanted Tejashwi’s resignation, the RJD leaders were inclined to float the idea of his elder brother, health minister Tej Pratap Yadav, succeeding him as deputy CM.

The cancellation of CM’s weekly Lok Samvad programme, on Monday, appeared to indicate he was fully seized with the issue at hand and may face the media only after taking a call on the matter.

SPECULATION Efforts on to find mutually acceptable response to the situation arising out of naming of deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav in an FIR filed by CBI

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 21:58 IST