RJD on offensive, Nitish goes into a huddle; grand alliance denouement coming soon?
JD (U) president and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar spent the better part of Monday mulling his next move and confabulating with close confidants, before he left for New Delhi in the evening.india Updated: Jul 24, 2017 21:06 IST
On a day that saw the RJD going hammer and tongs against its junior Grand Alliance partner, the JD (U), and questioned its zero tolerance policy on corruption, the silence in the JD (U) camp kept everybody guessing whether it was a sign of a softening of its stance, or a lull before an impending storm.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar spent the better part of the day confabulating on the future course of action with close confidants, including party state president Bashistha Narayan Singh, ministers, Lallan Singh and Bijendra Prasad Yadav, the latter known to be a Sharad Yadav camp follower, before he left for Delhi in the evening.
Kumar, also the JD (U) national president, is likely to meet AICC chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday before taking a final call on the ruling alliance imbroglio, caused by his party's demand that the RJD come clean on the CBI’s corruption charge on deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and the RJD keeping quiet on the issue.
The JD (U) chief will be attending the swearing in of President Ram Nath Kovind to whom the party had extended support, triggering a war of words with the other two GA partners.
The subsequent CBI FIR against RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi and deputy CM Tejashwi , in the ‘land for railways hotels’ case from the time Prasad was railways minister (2004-09), has widened the rift with the JD (U) demanding a point-to-point public rebuttal of the CBI charges, or Tejashwi’s resignation.
But, with former JD (U) president Sharad Yadav ‘openly’ taking position that the continuation and expansion of GA was more important than deputy CM’s resignation, on the back of Congress’s emphasis on ‘crisis management’, the situation has taken an uneasy turn.
The JD (U) unease was evident on Monday, when state president Basistha called a meeting of all the party spokespersons to ask them to exercise discretion in issuing statements to prevent the already tenuous GA relations from hurtling towards the point of no return.
And, if the silence of party mouthpieces was any indication, it was clear that they will abide by party diktat, despite the ‘provocative’ and ‘challenging’ voices from former RJD Union ministers—Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Md Taslimuddin.
The RJD leaders, while questioning JD (U)’s commitment to zero policy on corruption in wake of rampant corruption in state and central government offices, also dumped the responsibility of saving the GA at the doors of its leader Nitish Kumar.
“Even if there is going to be a compromise, it will not be without a price. The Congress, in the role of mediator, will also have to take a call on one of its chief ministers (facing corruption cases), before prevailing on the RJD to scale down it ‘no resignation’ stance on Tejashwi,” said party insider. “Kumar is not on shallow ground”, he added.
Those who know Kumar fear the ‘unexpected silence’ in JD (U) camp may just be the sign of a lull before the storm.