The Supreme Court judgment allowing the CBI to continue criminal conspiracy cases against Lalu Prasad Yadav is not only a setback for him, but also for the ruling coalition (Mahagathbandhan) in Bihar. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu and his sons — ministers in Nitish Kumar's government — are already battling a series of corruption charges recently levelled by the Opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
Sensing fissures within the grand coalition, the BJP has upped the ante against Lalu to force Nitish rethink his alliance with the RJD.
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi openly challenged Nitish to clear the air after a private channel broadcast a conversation between mafia don Mohammad Shahabuddin and Lalu. When a reporter asked him whether his party would support Nitish, he stopped just short of answering in the affirmative, saying, "First of all, Nitish must take a decision and only then can we say anything. Right now, he seems hand-in-hand with Lalu. If Nitish comes out of the coalition and decides to seek our support, then our central leadership can take a decision."
Recently Sushil has been coming out with allegations of corruption against the embattled RJD leader. It all started around a month ago when he alleged that Lalu’s family was involved in the soil scam. He showed papers and claimed a company owned by Lalu's family was contracted to supply soil to a Patna zoo. Then allegations of getting land from party leaders in exchange for giving them important positions were levelled against the RJD leader.
But it was the purported conversation between Lalu and Shahabuddin — while the latter was lodged in jail — that created major trouble for the coalition. Nitish has directed the state police to investigate the audio tapes, while the chief minister's trusted lieutenants have openly criticised Lalu.
Conspicuously, the BJP and its state leaders have been sparing the JDU while attacking the coalition government and focussing their attacks on Lalu.
On the other hand, JDU leaders too have not supported their ally and left Lalu and his family to defend themselves. In fact, a few BJP leaders even went on record saying that documents related to corruption charges against Lalu were provided by the Nitish camp.
Instead of defending Lalu, the prime focus of JDU spokespersons has been to save the clean image of their leader Nitish. But, after the apex court's judgment, it will be very difficult for the Nitish camp to ignore corruption charges against Lalu as the BJP has already begun a full-blown attack.
The author is a senior journalist with Network18
Updated Date: May 08, 2017 13:22 PM