PATNA: Bihar’s embattled deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav of RJD, under pressure to resign after the CBI registered an FIR against him for alleged corruption, on Wednesday made an impassioned plea of innocence and hinted that he would not resign.
A day after chief minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar gave a four-day ultimatum to the RJD to ensure Tejaswi Yadav puts in his papers, the 28-year- attended a cabinet meeting chaired by Nitish Kumar to show that all is well with him and the ruling alliance. But at the cabinet meeting, which lasted for an unusual 25 minutes, Kumar reportedly barely exchanged a word despite sitting next to him.
“When this (Railways’ hotel tender scam and subsequent land transfer) happened, I was a boy of only 14 or 15, and I did not even have a moustache at the time. Is it possible that I would commit any wrong act like this at that age?” said Tejaswi Yadav to journalists.
Claiming that his tenure of nearly two years as deputy chief minister with three portfolios has been “clean and effective,” Tejaswi Yadav said RJD’s opponents have been conspiring to destabilise Bihar’s JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance government. “Since I assumed charge, I have been sincerely performing my duties and serving Bihar’s people, and I have not done anything illegal. Our government has zero tolerance for corruption from day one. All three departments under me have done exceedingly well,” he added.
“These people (BJP) were afraid of Lalu Prasad Yadav. But now it is clear they are afraid of a 27-year-old youth who is challenging them,” said Tejaswi Yadav. “This FIR by the CBI and all these allegations are results of political vendetta. They are politically motivated by Amit Shah and the BJP as a conspiracy to defame and weaken us. These are their plots to defame Bihar,” he added, his elder brother and health minister Tej Pratap Yadav standing beside him.
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“BJP is trying hard to destabilise the grand alliance government by creating rifts between the allies. But both the grand alliance and the government are standing strong and they will remain strong,” he said. “The BJP-supported goons in the media are frustrated because the government is not crumbling,” he added as his security guards pushed journalists away, allegedly manhandling some of them.
RJD leaders, who had another meeting at Lalu Prasad Yadav’s residence said the party stands by Tejaswi Yadav and that he would not resign. Nitish Kumar, who left after the cabinet meeting without speaking to journalists, also met senior party colleagues to discuss the emerging situation.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who levelled a string of corruption charges against Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members over the past three months, rubbished Tejaswi Yadav’s charges of vendetta and his claim of being too young to have done anything illegal.
“His talk of having no moustache is laughable. He became the owner of three acres of land in Patna, on which Bihar’s biggest mall is being built at the age of 24. Let him say this plot of land does not belong to him and his family,” said Sushil Kumar Modi. “Why is BJP not chasing Naveen Patnaik or Nitish Kumar? There is proof against Lalu Prasad and his family. People have seen how they became billionaires from being extremely poor,” added the former deputy chief minister.