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No resolution after Nitish-Tejashwi meet, JD(U) insists deputy CM ‘come clean’

Bihar’s Grand Alliance has appeared on shaky ground since the RJD’s Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi Yadav have been named in a string of corruption cases.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 21:39 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar,Nitish Kumar,Lalu Prasad
A file photo of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar with his deputy Tejashwi Yadav in Patna. (PTI)

The much-talked about meeting between chief minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, doesn’t seem to have resolved the crisis facing the ruling alliance in Bihar.

The 45-minute meeting was being watched closely as Tejashwi was supposed to explain the corruption charges against him, which have worsened the ties between Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led by Lalu Prasad, the deputy chief minister’s father.

Both the parties are silent on the outcome but the JD(U) on Wednesday said the RJD would have to come clean. “The RJD would have to clear itself in public domain. Our stand has not changed,” party spokesperson Ajay Alok said, suggesting the crisis was far from over.

“We want a public clarification. This remains our official stand,” said MLC Neeraj Kumar, also a JD(U) state spokesperson.

Tejashwi was recently named in an alleged land-for-hotels case by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI raided the residence of Lalu, also named in the case, and other properties in five cities.

The land-for-hotels case is the latest in a string of corruption allegations against Lalu and his clan. Kumar is under intense pressure to sack his deputy to protect the image of a clean government.

The RJD, too, has kept quiet except former Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwary, who declared the crisis had blown over and Kumar was satisfied with Tejashwi’s stand.

But there was little on the ground to back his claim.

The JD (U) plans to aggressively take up the matter as party sources said “no further instructions have been issued to party spokespersons to go slow on the issue”.

The party had earlier barred its leaders from speaking in public about the rift, which not only will have a bearing on the politics of Bihar but could also decide the fate of the opposition parties’ efforts to come together to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Kumar stayed off official engagements on Wednesday. Tejashwi left for Delhi while Lalu was headed to Ranchi in neighbouring Jharkhand, where he will appear in a fodder scam case on Thursday.

Though Tejashwi’s visit is said to be official, sources said, he would also be consulting lawyers to “get his clarifications prepared”.

The fresh JD (U) attack was a well-thought out move to send a message that all was not well, sources said.

With his credibility at stake, Kumar would like to go into the monsoon session, which begins July 28, with something substantial.

The BJP, which has been questioning his “zero tolerance policy against corruption”, will be unsparing over the swirl of corruption charges against Lalu and his family.

There were reports that a group of senior JD(U) leaders, including Sharad Yadav, was trying to broker peace between the two warring partners.

Insiders are of the view that the RJD is not in a position to drive a hard bargain and Lalu needs JD (U) for his sons to have a long political inning.

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 20:31 IST