Bihar crisis: Without Nitish Kumar's support, political decimation of Congress, RJD is inevitable

The recent CBI raids on the business interests of Lalu Prasad Yadav and sons have set off a chain of events that could culminate in the political decimation of the Congress and the end of the RJD, at least as a family-owned enterprise.

Ironically, it is Nitish Kumar who may end up dismantling the two parties and their dynasties before the next Lok Sabha polls, helping, intentionally or otherwise, the BJP in annihilating its arch rivals.

The Yadav family is in deep trouble because it has actually made the mistake of owning up a controversial transaction, linking it to not just to Rabri Devi but also to half of his clan and political scion Tejashwi.

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. PTI

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. PTI

A chain of transactions establishes that the Yadav family is the ultimate beneficiary of a controversial land transaction in Patna. According to the CBI, the land in Patna, measuring around two acres, was transferred to the Yadavs by Harsh and Vinay Kochar, whose firm was allegedly favoured by the Ministry of Railways under Lalu Yadav. The land, according to the CBI, was transferred to Delight Constructions, a private limited company that was later converted into a partnership between Rabri, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, as a quid-pro-quo by Kochars.

Establishing a quid-pro-quo deal takes a lot of time. But, such is the maze of shady transactions involving the land deal that the Yadavs would find it difficult to throw the CBI off their trail. And this is where the problems for the RJD parivar begin.

Several years ago, when Lalu Yadav was chargesheeted in the fodder scam, he was able to keep the dynasty and the party alive by transferring power to his wife and gradually to Tejashwi. But he may not have this luxury again.

The Patna land deal not only involves Rabri Devi and the two sons but also his daughters Ragini and Chanda, who were directors in Lara Projects Private Limited, the company that was later turned into a partnership firm.

What does this imply theoretically? The involvement of the Yadav clan in the deal means that if the CBI is able to prove its charges, half of the RJD parivar may get chargesheeted, and, later, indicted or jailed, a possibility that could lead to their disqualification from contesting polls. If that happens, it would certainly be the end of the Yadav dynasty in Bihar.

But, the clear and present danger for the Yadavs is from their ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He has called a meeting of the JD(U) on Tuesday in a bid to build pressure on Tejashwi to resign as deputy chief minister till his name is cleared. According to several reports, Kumar doesn't want the taint of corruption on his government and is eager that Tejashwi goes on his own, without forcing the chief minister to take action. Meanwhile, RJD leaders met on Monday and later in a press conference announced that Tejashwi will not resign despite the corruption charges levelled against him.

Ever since the CBI raided Lalu Yadav's home and offices, Kumar has been silent. Unlike the Congress, which called the raids political vendetta, Kumar has been watching the drama unfold, leaving his partners guessing.

Analysts believe Kumar is getting ready to snap ties with both the Congress and the RJD before the next elections. He is aware of the risks of being associated with a scam-tainted partner, a label that would be detrimental to his image of Sushashan Babu. But, before he walks out of the Mahagathbandhan, he would have ensured that the Yadavs die a slow political death and face the CBI probe.

So, how does this impact the Congress?

The end of Mahagathbandhan would certainly be the end of the Opposition's plan to stop the BJP from returning in 2019. In the 2014 elections, a divided Opposition fared miserably in the Lok Sabha, with the JD(U) winning just two seats, the RJD four and the Congress drawing a blank. The united Opposition hopes to repeat its 2015 Assembly election performance in 2019, taking away a large chunk of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar from the BJP. But, if the Mahagathbandhan dies and, more importantly, if the JD(U) joins the NDA, the Opposition can bid goodbye to Bihar. The Opposition parties, even if they join hands, would be left to vie for the 31 percent Yadav and Muslim voters, leaving them with very little chance of repeating 2015.

Both the Yadavs and the Congress need Kumar's unwavering support to survive the current cycle of setbacks and avoid a rout in the next election. With Kumar maintaining a deafening silence and biding his team for the decisive move away from the Mahagathbandhan, the future looks bleak for Lalu and sons and the Congress.

Updated Date: Jul 10, 2017 14:36 PM

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