PATNA: Faced with little progress in its efforts to ensure deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav’s departure from the state cabinet, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) on Monday asked its leaders to stop speaking out on the vexed issue for the time being.
In what is seen as an uneasy truce initiative by JD(U) after a fortnight’s combative spell, the party’s state chief Vashistha Narayan Singh asked all the spokespersons to stop making statements on the party’s stand. The move came soon after Nitish held a meeting with senior party colleagues, including Singh, to discuss the festering hostilities between JD(U) and RJD.
Tejaswi, who is RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s younger son, has refused to step down despite an FIR registered against him by CBI on July 6 in a corruption case. Nitish, who is concerned about his clean image and wants Tejaswi to leave the cabinet, has reportedly made his stand clear to both RJD and Congress, but the two parties have shown little regard for JD(U)’s wishes. Consequently, the BJP and its allies have accused Nitish of compromising his avowed zero-tolerance policy towards corruption.
JD(U) sources said the party’s change of tack was a result of senior JD(U) leader and veteran MP Sharad Yadav’s advice to Kumar during their recent meeting in New Delhi that keeping the grand alliance intact was more important than Tejaswi’s resignation.
“You (journalists) should focus on more important issues like the state government’s admirable work in prohibition and its plans to start campaigns against drug abuse, dowry and child marriage,” said JD(U) chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh when asked about the party’s latest stand on rising calls for Tejaswi’s resignation.
Sources said Congress national general secretary and in-charge of Bihar, CP Joshi, has been authorised by the party to speak with Lalu and ensure Tejaswi’s resignation.
“RJD, which bears indelible stains of its 15-year misrule of Bihar, and Congress, which cannot hide the corruption scams during ten years of UPA rule, got more MLAs in the 2015 Assembly polls only because of Nitish Kumar’s clean image with them. Now these two parties are intent on harming his image,” said senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. He reiterated his demand that Nitish should sack Tejaswi since the “tainted leader” has refused to resign.
JD(U) national general secretary KC Tyagi chided BJP, saying: “BJP should pay attention to its own house and stop looking at internal affairs of other parties”.
Nitish, apparently uncomfortable to be seen with Tejaswi, did not hold his weekly ‘janata durbar’ public grievance programme on Monday for the second consecutive week.