Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal United and Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal are expected to take a stand at separate party meetings today on Tejashwi Yadav’s future in the Bihar government that could also decide if the grand alliance sealed ahead of the assembly elections will survive its biggest challenge in two years.
Lalu Yadav, who has battled many corruption cases in his political career before he was convicted by the Supreme Court in one case, insists that a corruption case filed by the CBI naming his 28-year-old son and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi was politically motivated.
But Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has made it clear that settling for anything less than Deputy Chief Minister and Lalu Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav’s exit from his cabinet could soil his government’s unblemished record.
The Deputy Chief Minister was named in a corruption case by the CBI after raids on the Yadav family three weeks ago. Much of the political debate in the state through the last 10 days has revolved around the longevity of the alliance if the two sides do not budge.
Chief Minister Kumar is keen that his Deputy Chief Minister quits before he walks into the Bihar assembly that meets from Friday. He had initially scheduled the meeting with legislators for Thursday. But the JD (U) meeting was advanced by a day when the RJD let it be known that Lalu Yadav was meeting his legislators on Wednesday, before he heads to Ranchi for a court hearing into a fodder scam cases that he faces.
This week, Mr Kumar also asked the Congress – the third pillar of the grand alliance – to persuade Lalu Yadav to pull his son out of the government. From all available indications, the Congress tried to mediate but didn’t get far.
Mr Kumar hasn’t said anything in public against Tejashwi Yadav in public but has been outspoken at his interaction with party leaders; at one point even reminiscing how he never faced such issues when he ran the government in alliance with the BJP.
When he was asked about his discomfort with Tejashwi Yadav’s presence in his government, the Chief Minister joked with reporters in Delhi on Tuesday, “You please be comfortable” and then added, “there is no threat to the government.”