Amid reports of strained ties in the Bihar grand alliance, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav have called separate meetings of legislators of their respective parties to decide their future course on the situation arising out of the Friday's CBI raids on Prasad and his family.
Nitish will chair a meeting of the Janata Dal United (JD(U)) legislators on Tuesday, while Prasad is scheduled to huddle up with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leaders later on Monday, according to The Indian Experss. The meetings are expected to end speculation on the future of the Bihar alliance and shed some light on JD(U)'s formal stand on the issue.
So far, Nitish and his party have maintained a studied silence on the issue, especially when the BJP is out cornering the Bihar government and raising the pitch to sack deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, who is also under the CBI scanner.
Nitish had returned to Patna on Sunday after spending three days in Rajgir, away from the Bihar capital where the political climate had heated up following the CBI raids on the RJD chief and his family. However, the Bihar chief minister has so far given no signals to clarify his party's stand on the issue.
Nitish has even cancelled a public interface event and the subsequent press conference lined up on Monday, citing health grounds, however the move has triggered speculation that he is avoiding the media on the alleged strained ties within the Mahagathbandhan.
However, various media reports suggested that the JD(U) has been scrambling to put together a strategy to push back to the Opposition's mounting pressure.
The ideal solution in this case would be if Tejashwi himself offers to resign on moral grounds, JD(U) sources reportedly said, The Indian Express article reported.
However, a report in The Financial Express, stated that even though Nitish wants Lalu to take a call on Tejashwi's future in the Bihar Cabinet, he will not refrain from sharing his views with his alliance partner. The RJD has so far maintained that there was no need for Tejashwi's resignation.
Another report in Hindustan Times, suggested that ‘back channel parleys’ were already underway as leaders of ruling grand alliance are negotiating an amicable middle path to deal with the situation arising from Tejashwi's name cropping up in the FIR relating to graft charges.
"The RJD emissaries are reported to have tried to impress upon JD (U) leadership to accept the line that the CBI FIR against Yadav should be accepted as ‘politically motivated’ case, instead of being treated as a direct case of corruption," the report reads.
Congress, another ally in the grand alliance has already extended its supported to the RJD chief and his family, accusing the BJP of "conspiring to bulldoze secular parties" by misusing the state machinery. "We are with Lalu. We understand this conspiracy by the BJP," Congress' Sadanand Singh told IANS.
However, matters are far from simplified for the JD(U), with its former ally BJP constantly reminding the ruling party of it's ‘zero tolerance policy on corruption,’ questioning whether Nitish had a different pair of lenses to view opponents and allies.
"Now it is high time Nitish Kumar breaks his silence," said BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi, who has welcomed the CBI raids on Lalu Prasad's residence and 12 other places over a fresh case of alleged irregularities in awarding tender for the maintenance of hotels. He reminded the press that it was Nitish Kumar, who had raised this corruption case first time in 2008.
The CBI has registered the case against Lalu Prasad, his wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, Tejaswi Yadav, former Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Managing Director P.K. Goyal, and Lalu Prasad's confidante Prem Chand Gupta's wife Sujata on allegations of awarding the tender for development, maintenance and operation of hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006.
In the same year, the hotels were transferred to the IRCTC. Lalu Prasad was the railways minister between 2004-09.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 10, 2017 11:19 AM