Nitish Kumar has indicated a preference for the resignation of Tejashwi Yadav, who has publicly declared it will not be forthcoming, a stand endorsed heartily by his father, Lalu Yadav.
PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met this evening with his 28-year-old deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, who has been charged with corruption by the CBI.
This is the first time that the two leaders have met alone since the corruption scandal erupted two weeks ago. They attended a cabinet meeting together this morning. At the 45-minute meeting this evening at the Chief Minister’s office, Tejashwi Yadav presented him with a detailed defense of the charges against him – his explanation had been vetted by lawyers and senior leaders of his party including his father Lalu Yadav.
Nitish Kumar has indicated a preference for the resignation of his deputy, who has publicly declared it will not be forthcoming, a stand endorsed heartily by his father, and their party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, which has the most seats in the Bihar assembly.
With both sides adamant on their stand, it was left to their third ally – the Congress – to mediate. This evening’s meeting was reportedly set up by Ashok Choudhary, a senior Congress leader in Bihar who is also a minister in the coalition government.
Earlier this week, Nitish Kumar’s party, the Janata Dal United, acknowledged that the Chief Minister had dialed Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and asked for her intervention. The Chief Minister also reportedly conveyed to Team Lalu that what could help tide the crisis over is a defense of the charges offered in person by Tejashwai Yadav to his boss.
The CBI raided the Patna home of the Yadavs on July 7 and said that in his earlier term as the country’s Railways Minister, Lalu Yadav obliged private vendors with lucrative contracts; in exchange, they endowed him with real estate assets for his children at bargain basement prices and through proxy owners.
Lalu Yadav is banned from public office after being convicted of corruption in a case dating to the 1990s when he was Chief Minister of Bihar; he has said that the corruption case is characteristic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda to persecute political opponents. Though this complaint resonated among other opposition A-listers like Sonia Gandhi, Lalu Yadav’s partner, Nitsih Kumar, offered no commiseration, stating instead that the Yadavs’ explanation was weak and a detailed rejoinder was urgently needed, preferably in public.