PATNA: Bihar’s ruling alliance wobbled on Thursday over growing calls for deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav’s removal from the Nitish Kumar-led government after RJD, apparently emboldened by the support of top Congress leaders on the issue, brandished its numerical supremacy in the Assembly as a red flag.
With RJD adamant on the continuance of Tejaswi Yadav in his post despite the FIR registered by CBI in a corruption case last week, statements by at least two senior RJD leaders pointed at a hardening of stances both in RJD and JD(U).
Senior RJD legislator Bhai Virendra said, “Our party (RJD) will do what our leader Lalu Prasad Yadav decides. We have 80 MLAs. We will see what happens." He added saying that the unanimous decision of the RJD legislators was that Tejashwi would not resign.
Another senior RJD leader and former MP, Mohammad Taslimuddin, “RJD has the numbers. It can form the government on its own if it wants."
In Bihar’s 243-member Assembly, the three ruling allies - RJD, JD(U) and Congress - have 80, 71 and 27 MLAs. The Opposition BJP has 53 MLAs and five more of its allies.
Sources said the support top Congress leaders have shown for Tejaswi, who is the younger son of Lalu Prasad Yadav, has made RJD more confident.
“Congress does not want Tejaswi to be sacrificed at the altar of BJP’s vendetta politics. Congress leaders have conveyed this to Nitish, who needs both RJD and Congress to keep the government afloat,” said an RJD leader close to Lalu.
However, JD(U) spokesperson said, “There is going to be no gain by counting the number of MLAs. Bihar’s people voted for the alliance of three parties (in 2015 Assembly polls). Let nobody remain under any wrong impressions.”
Sources said Nitish Kumar, who is also JD(U) national president, discussed these statements with his aides on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Lalu, who appeared in a court in Ranchi in connection with fodder scam cases against him on Thursday, rubbished the four-day ultimatum given by Nitish Kumar to RJD. “This misinformation was spread by Ramai Ram. Nitish told him that a press conference would be held at 4 O’clock. But he (Ram) came out and told journalists that Tejaswi has been given a four-day ultimatum,” said Yadav in Ranchi.
Ramai Ram later denied his statement saying that it was “wrongly presented”.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said since it was now clear that Tejaswi would not resign, Nitish should sack him from the cabinet. “His (Tejaswi’s) father had not resigned after an FIR was registered against him in fodder scam case. The son will also not resign. I appeal to Nitish Kumar that he should waste no time and sack him,” said Modi, a former deputy chief minister of Bihar.
“It is not BJP that has brought Tejaswi’s present troubles. They were earned for him by his father, who made him a partner in his web of corrupt practices and projects when he was 25 and participated,” added Modi.