Fissures in Bihar alliance as JD(U) toughens stand on corruption

The Janata Dal (United) executive met in Patna on Tuesday to discuss the case of the CBI lodging an FIR against Deputy Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav in a land-for-hotels case. It decided that there would be no compromise on the party’s stand of zero tolerance on corruption. JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar told National Herald that the party’s stand on the issue of corruption is of “zero tolerance”, and that Rastriya Janta Dal (RJD) should understand it.

The executive was of the opinion that Nitish Kumar had always taken a firm stand on probity and transparency in public life. Therefore, he has desisted from inducting people with criminal charges or corruption charges in his cabinet. If a prima facie case is filed against a minister, he has dropped the minister.

“Our leader Nitish Kumar has showed zero tolerance in the past too, be it Dashrath Manjhi’s case or anybody else. Those who were named in the corruption were shown the doors. RJD should understand this and respect our stand. Tejashwi should come clean,” Neeraj Kumar said from Patna over the phone.

“Perception is very important in public life. We all know that politics is all about perception, and if we lose the war of perception, it will not be good for us,” he added.

When asked about the connotation of the phrase “zero tolerance” in the context of the BJP’s mounting pressure on Tejashwi Yadav to resign, he said, “We have not demanded his resignation in time bound manner but RJD should respect our sensibility. We decided to give him more time.”

JD(U) sources told National Herald that since serious charges had been brought by investigative agencies against the Deputy Chief Minister, it is expected from the minister concerned that, either, he should clarify and convince people that the charges are false or, if he is unable to do so, it is expected of him to tender his resignation.

The sources also confirmed that the JD(U) executive authorised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take a decision on this matter, keeping in view his stand against corruption.

Sources close to Nitish Kumar said the Chief Minister expected the Congress, as the big brother in the national Opposition camp, to persuade RJD to take an appropriate decision in this regard.

Whatever political situation the JD(U) has found itself in, it has never compromised on its stand on corruption, a JD(U) leader told National Herald.

In the wake of the ongoing political interplay in Bihar, what JD(U) said on Tuesday might further deepen the cracks in the grand alliance in Bihar.

Political observers feel that the change in the stand of JD(U) is not a sudden one. It is part of a political strategy. If JD(U)’s hardened stand remains unchanged, it may lead to the collapse of grand alliance in the future.

It is noteworthy to mention that the BJP has been demanding the resignation of Tejashwi Yadav ever since the CBI and ED raided his house on the charge of corruption. The CBI and ED also raided the premises of the RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti.

The BJP has, in the past, also appealed to Nitish Kumar to dismiss Tejashwi Yadav from the cabinet.

Citing references from the past, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had said last Saturday that Kumar should undergo an ‘agnipariksha’ (trial by fire) by acting against his deputy, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, for his involvement in corruption case.

“Kumar, who had earlier accepted the resignation of four of his ministers for their ‘involvement’ in corruption cases, should now take the same step against his deputy,” he was quoted as saying by the media.

A political activist from JD(U) told National Herald that it may be the beginning of the end.

“Although Nitish would not like to end the alliance, he would indeed like to keep RJD and the central leadership of the Congress to know his importance,” he added.