Tejashwi Yadav meets Nitish Kumar signalling truce in Bihar’s RJD-JD(U) alliance
A section of RJD leaders said a meeting between the chief minister and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav could take place if the latter got a formal invite from Nitish Kumar, who has maintained a stoic silence over the FIR registered by the CBI.india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 13:03 IST
In a political breakthrough, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav met chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday to “clarify” on the charges filed against him by the CBI in a hotels-for-land scam.
Though details of the talks – which was held in his chamber at the old secretariat in Patna – were not known immediately, insiders said Tejashwi insisted that the CBI cases were thin on facts and hence, till the chargesheet was actually filed, the details of the cases against which rebuttals could be furnished may not be made available.
It also marked a climbdown by the JD(U), which had appeared to threaten the RJD of ‘sacking’ the deputy chief minister, should the RJD tarry in its explanation.
Tejashwi is also stated to have said that the RJD wished to continue the grand alliance and his party would not be a constraint, even as it would offer all details on the table for its allies to pursue.
Though it was not clear whether Kumar was satisfied with the “explanation”, the alliance can now hang on together, said senior leaders on either side.
“Tejashwi has explained his side as demanded by the JD(U) after the chief minister graciously allowed an audience,” a top RJD leader said.
“The problems had arisen due to a communication gap between top leaders and adversarial views of spokesmen, which had now been put to rest. The rapprochement is for real,” he claimed, though there was no official confirmation from JD(U) till late evening.
RJD goes soft
The huge climbdown from the RJD’s persistent stand that Tejashwi (26) had done “no wrong” and “would not resign”, that had set up a huge confrontation with JD(U) over the last two weeks, was an indicator that an “option-less” RJD had been left with little recourse after JD(U) demanded that he defend the charges, or resign. The unstated deadline was that it should happen before the monsoon session commenced on July 28.
The RJD stand had thrown the state into turmoil even as charges and counter charges by both parties threatened to bring down the grand alliance government led by Kumar.
Either side stuck to its guns, prompting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi to talk separately to the two leaders in an attempt to find middle ground and save the government from falling and allowing BJP a bigger political space in the state ahead of 2019.
RJD wanted CM to invite deputy
However, the surprise visit of Tejashwi, accompanied by his brother and health minister Tej Pratap Yadav and Congress’s Bihar chief and minister Ashok Choudhary came around 6 pm, soon after the cabinet meeting.
However, only the deputy CM was invited into Kumar’s presence for a closed door meeting, which lasted for 40 minutes.
Top RJD leaders had confided earlier to HT that a climbdown was possible on Wednesday, on the condition that the chief minister invite his deputy for the meeting.
A senior RJD leader, wishing anonymity, had told HT that the RJD would never defy the CM in matters of governance or over a call for meeting.
The leader pointed to Tejashwi attending the cabinet meeting on Tuesday and last week after receiving the agenda.
The JD(U) had made it clear that while it had not set a deadline for a clarification, it would not compromise on the chief minister’s ‘clean, honest’ image.
It also indicated that Kumar wanted the clarification not to be delayed till July 28 when the monsoon session is to commence, for it could turn a major embarrassment with the NDA waiting to exploit the situation to the hilt.
Earlier, there were reports that a section of senior JD(U) leaders, including Sharad Yadav, were also trying to broker peace between the two warring partners by advising the JD(U) and the RJD leadership that the matter could be resolved through consultations and meetings.
Insiders say RJD had very little option but to succumb, as an adverse verdict in the fodder scam cases was a possibility. With new scam charges gaining momentum, diminishing chances of making friends among parties nationwide, the RJD is now dependant on JD(U) to keep alive the political future of Lalu Prasad’s two sons.
That realisation and the fear that the chief minister could resort to desperate measures to preserve his taint-free governance forced the RJD to climb down.