Crisis in Bihar’s ruling alliance: Cong backs Lalu, Nitish mum on deputy Tejashwi’s fate

The Congress backing for Lalu Prasad showed the party’s compulsion to make common cause with the RJD chief ahead of the Presidential election, on July 17 and the uncertainty over the JD (U)’s next move.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2017 18:54 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar ruling alliance,CBI raids Lalu,FIR on Tejashwi
Eighteen months after coming to power in Bihar, grand alliance partners are not on same page on many issues. (HT file photo)

Even as the ruling Janata Dal (U) continued to maintain a studied silence on the CBI raids on RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family members, on Friday, the other partner of the ruling Grand Alliance in Bihar, the Congress, extended its fulsome support to RJD chief and family “in its hour of crisis.”

While chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is recuperating at Rajgir, extended his stay at the resort town and was likely to return by Sunday evening, or Monday morning, Congress leaders flocked to The RJD president’s residence, soon after opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar left Patna for Ranchi.

“We are with him in this hour of crisis,” said Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president and Bihar human resource development minister Ashok Choudhary. “The BJP government is targeting all those who oppose it. Everybody knows the credentials of (BJP chief) Amit Shah and PM Modi,” he added.

Earlier, talking to reporters at Sadaquat Ashram, the state Congress headquarters, Choudhary backed Prasad’s defence that his son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, who was among those against whom the CBI had filed an FIR, was a minor when a railways hotels deal under probe happened.

Choudhary said it was true Tejashwi was a minor at the time of the allotment of licenses of lease for two IRCTC hotels (in 2006) to the Kochhar brothers, at Ranchi and Puri, allegedly in exchange for land in Patna.

Congress Legislature Party leader Sadanand Singh also visited Lalu’s residence, to express his solidarity.

The Congress central leadership had, in Delhi, called the CBI “a captive puppet” of the BJP-led NDA government and accused it of acting like its “dirty tricks department”, to seek revenge against political opponents of the ruling party.

The Congress backing for Lalu Prasad showed the party’s compulsion to make common cause with the RJD chief ahead of the Presidential election, on July 17 and the uncertainty over the JD (U)’s next move.

Amidst reports of growing chasm between the JD (U) and the Congress, following the JD (U) decision to back the NDA nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, and the JD (U)-RJD periodic skirmishes, the three grand alliance partners have not been able to make common cause over a variety of issues.

JD (U) sources said Kumar was scheduled to meet party district presidents and other office-bearers on Monday. Though the agenda of the meeting is to review membership drive and implementation of ‘CM’s seven resolves’, it is expected that the current political scenario will also figure during the meeting.

Though the silence of the CM as well as other party leaders on CBI raid, is being questioned in different quarters, including by RJD leaders, JD (U) sources said, even though the alliance may look strained, it was not under any serious threat.

“The JD (U) will not like to be trapped in a Shiv Sena like situation in Maharshtra after aligning with the BJP,” said a senior party leader.

What may be haunting the CM even in Rajgir was how to deal with the situation when a case has been lodged against his own deputy, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.

Even though the CBI has registered a formal case against his deputy and also conducted a raid at his residence in a corruption case, the chief minister has been mysteriously “silent” over the issue.

What may be adding to Kumar’s worry is the continuous attack by BJP leaders who are now reminding him about the ‘zero tolerance policy’ on corruption of his coalition government with the BJP (2005-13) and provoking him to move against the Lalu family.

First Published: Jul 08, 2017 18:54 IST