Nitish Kumar has so far maintained his silence on the corruption cases filed against his Bihar ally Lalu Yadav and his family.
PATNA: Nitish Kumar will at 1 pm tomorrow deliver a speech that could redefine the anatomy of his government in Bihar. For the first time, the Chief Minister, age 66, will comment on the raids against his political partner (and neighbour) Lalu Yadav, whose son, Tejashwi Yadav, is the second lead in the government and has been accused of corruption by the CBI.
At a meeting of hundreds of delegates including MPs and state legislators from his party, the Janata Dal (United), Nitish Kumar will declare that siddhant (ideology) trumps satta (power), and that there can be no compromise of integrity, said sources who asked not to be named. That is about the extent of the reprimand that he will indirectly serve to Lalu Yadav, whose party has the maximum seats in the legislature.
His speech in Patna may also include a remonstration, directed at the central government, for “planted reports” in the media that said the Chief Minister’s office had been given advance warning of the raids that took place on Friday at different properties owned by Lalu Yadav including his Patna home.
Nitish Kumar, like Lalu Yadav, is expected to proclaim that attempts to damage their “Grand Alliance” in Bihar – the Congress is a junior and third partner – will not land.
Lalu Yadav’s party met today and unequivocally declared that Tejashwi Yadav, 27, will not resign. It’s now up to Nitish Kumar to decide whether to sign off on that decision. Sources told NDTV this morning that he is displeased with Tejashwi Yadav announcing on Friday – right after the raids on his family – that he does not plan to quit. As the Chief Minister and the leader of the alliance, Nitish Kumar believes that call rests entirely with him.
So far, the CBI has filed a case or FIR against Tejashwi Yadav. Turning that into a chargesheet that details charges and outlines evidence for a court is likely to take months. The Deputy Chief Minister’s party says it would be unfair to remove him till that happens. An FIR or case, they say, can be filed against anyone without any real evidence.
The provocation in the shape of the corruption case comes at a time when the Grand Alliance in Bihar has taken a beating over the election for President of India. Nitish Kumar has opted to vote in favour of the BJP – and against the Congress, Lalu Yadav and 15 other opposition parties whose daisy chain he propagated in April. His siding with the centre drew angry comments from his partners; he responded equally aggressively, stating that a union of parties without any clear strategy or blueprint is doomed to fail against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
Tomorrow, the opposition bloc has called a summit in Delhi to vet candidates for Vice President. Nitish Kumar has chosen not to attend, though Sharad Yadav will represent their party at the meeting.
“Nothing can stop this front,” Sharad Yadav said of the opposition league, offering the reassurance that Nitish Kumar is not politically peripatetic. But with Lalu Yadav and his son threatening to turn into an ankle weight, Nitish Kumar’s commitment to his current alliance may be more form than substance.