While opposition leaders backed Lalu Yadav in denouncing the case against him as political vendetta by the centre, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was silent
PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today signalled that the surest way of ally Lalu Yadav saving their government is to deliver the resignation of his son, Tejashwi Yadav, who, at 27, is the Deputy Chief Minister.
“I shall not compromise with my principles. I am firm on my resolve of zero tolerance against corruption,” Nitish Kumar said while addressing his party Janata Dal-United’s leaders and workers at his home in Patna. Tomorrow, he will meet Tejashwi Yadav at a cabinet meeting.
On Friday, Lalu Yadav’s home in Patna was raided by the CBI which says that while he was union Railways Minister, he exploited his office to help his family acquire three acres in Patna at dream prices. The land is owned in part by Tejashwi Yadav.
“Those facing corruption charges should face the public and come clean on the corruption charges,” said a spokesperson for the chief minister’s party after the meeting today – the suggestion was that the explanation offered by the Yadavs so far isn’t enough and that a detailed, point-by-point counter to the CBI’s charges must be issued. “We created a precedent by taking the resignations of our own ministers,” said the spokesperson, Neeraj Kumar, just to avoid any confusion about the message for Lalu Yadav.
Today’s comments were the first by Nitish Kumar on the corruption scandal. While opposition leaders backed Lalu Yadav in denouncing the case against him as political vendetta by the centre, the chief minister was silent. The result was a heightened focus on whether the alliance that governs Bihar (the Congress is the third member) is all but insolvent now.
Yesterday, at a similar meeting, Lalu Yadav’s party announced that Tejashwi Yadav will not quit on the basis of what the CBI has presented so far. Lalu Yadav has said that the charges are fabricated and that in any case, when the alleged transgression took place, Tejashwi Yadav was a minor.
But at the meeting of the JDU, several leaders suggested it’s time to end the alliance with the Yadavs.
The fact that Nitish Kumar has broadly hinted at Tejashwi Yadav exiting the government but has not insisted on it, along with the fact that the JDU has decided today to support the opposition’s joint candidate for Vice President, allows the premise that the chief minister remains committed for now to the side that has collated against the BJP.
A few weeks ago, Nitish Kumar broke with the 18-party team to state that for the President of India, he will back the BJP’s choice – an audacious move given that he had pitched the coming together of “secular” anti-BJP parties. His move was seen as an expression of interest in a new arrangement ahead of the 2019 general election – one that could see him reattached to the BJP, with whom he split in 2013 after a 17-year alliance after it named Narendra Modi as its choice for Prime Minister.
At today’s JDU summit, only one leader, minister Vijendra Yadav, asked of the party boss, “Will you go back to same Modi on whose name you broke the alliance with the BJP?”