The JD(U) today ramped up pressure on alliance partner RJD over the corruption case involving Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, asking it to come clean on the allegations against him. Tejashwi, son of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, has been named by the CBI as an accused in its probe into the land-for-hotels scam case. Amid a growing rift in the coalition on the issue, state Janata Dal (United) chief spokesman Sanjay Singh said the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) should provide facts and not “display arrogance” of having 80 MLAs in the 243-member Bihar Assembly. “The RJD, which is showing arrogance of 80 MLAs, should not forget that it was reduced to 22 MLAs in the 2010 state polls and in the election in 2015, their number swelled due to the credible face of Nitish Kumar as the head of the coalition,” he told PTI.
The JD(U) has 71 MLAs and the other alliance partner Congress 27 while the BJP, which is the main opposition in the House, has 53 MLAs. The Assembly has representation from the CPI(ML), the HAM (Secular), the LJP and the RLSP among others. Singh was reacting to the “80-MLA” remark of Ram Chandra Purve, the Bihar unit chief of the RJD.
In Delhi, JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would never compromise on the issue of corruption. “Nitish Kumar’s stand on corruption is well known. He will never compromise on it,” he said. Asked what his party expected from the RJD over the charges against Tejashwi, Tyagi said the RJD leader should give a detailed explanation over the allegations, an issue his party had made clear following a meeting of its leaders in Patna. Tyagi also insisted that he never sought Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s intervention to defuse the crisis in the Grand Alliance and only welcomed such a suggestion reportedly made by a Congress leader in Bihar.
Meanwhile, Lalu rubbished reports that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had called him up to mediate with Nitish over the Tejashwi issue. “There has been no conversation between Sonia Gandhi and me on this issue. I totally reject this,” he said tonight. He, however, said he could say whether Gandhi had talked to Nitish on this.
Earlier in Patna, state Congress chief and minister Ashok Choudhary met Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, after the RJD chief reached here from Ranchi in the evening. He spoke to Prasad for nearly half an hour. After the meeting, Choudhary said that the Grand Alliance was intact. “Grand Alliance is intact. There is respect for both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad in the Grand Alliance. There is no reason for BJP to be happy (that coalition is breaking),” he told reporters.
Union minister and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan said the Bihar chief minister should take a decision on his association with the RJD “at the earliest” as Lalu Prasad could break the JD(U) to form a government of his own.
The Congress said the Grand Alliance in Bihar was intact. “It is based on principles. The people of Bihar had rejected a coalition which wanted to break the ‘Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb’ (syncretic culture) of Bihar,” party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters.
To a question on the remarks of some alliance leaders that Sonia should intervene to resolve the present crisis, he said functionaries of all the three parties should consult their leaders, including Nitish Kumar, before speaking on the issue.
JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar, in an apparent reference to Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi, said those against whom accusations have been levelled should explain the source of their assets “to silence the opposition”.
His colleague Sunil Singh echoed similar views and made it clear that the party would in no case compromise with the “clean image” of Nitish Kumar, saying the JD)U) president was known for his “politics of principles and zero-tolerance to corruption”.
A section of the media reported that Tejashwi had made up his mind to tender resignation and the decision to this effect could be announced after the return of Lalu Prasad tomorrow from Ranchi, where he had gone for appearances in courts in fodder scam-related cases.
However, Tejashwi, in a tweet, ridiculed these reports.
“Some media in the name of ‘utpati (destructive) sources’ is running one-point programme of the BJP…I feel like laughing at it loudly (sic),” he said.