Legislators of Bihar’s two ruling allies, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United), will meet separately on Wednesday amid a bitter political standoff on corruption charges that has plunged the coalition government into unprecedented crisis.
The ruling Grand Alliance is facing a storm of criticism over corruption allegations against deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav in an alleged land-for-hotels scam.
The JD(U) has repeatedly called for his resignation, a demand rebuffed by the bigger RJD. The Congress is said to be playing the peacemaker with both chief minister Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi meeting Sonia Gandhi this week.
Ahead of the meeting, the RJD appeared combative and in no mood to give in to the demands. “If Nitish taken any action against Tejashwi, we will expose him threadbare. I know him for 40 years and his so-called zero tolerance policy on corruption is just a sham,” said senior leader Shivanand Tiwary.
The tradition of separate legislature party meetings ahead of an assembly session is common practice but this is the first time the Grand Alliance has scrapped a common meeting, a reflection of the tension within the coalition. But both parties have insisted that the alliance government was not under threat because of the current political crisis.
The JD(U) that has vociferously demanded Tejashwi Yadav’s resignation and even issued a now-lapsed four-day deadline, has gone quiet in the run-up to the meeting, authorising chief minister Nitish Kumar to take a call at an “appropriate time”.
“Knowing Nitish Kumar, all I can say at the moment is that he cannot be taken for granted on any issue concerning corruption. If RJD sticks to its stand, anything can happen, but only the CM can say what,” said a senior party leader.
JD(U) spokesman KC Tyagi said it was difficult to say anything at this point of time. “The RJD should come up with clarification on the charges,” he added.
The Bihar assembly session kicks off on Friday and is expected to see fireworks as the BJP is gunning for chief minister Nitish Kumar, who will have Tejashwi sitting next to him in the house. BJP leader Sushil Modi has already said he wouldn’t let the house run if Tejashwi is present.