Senior leaders of the JD(U) hit back Monday at the RJD’s Raghuvansh Prasad Singh for endorsing Mohammed Shahabuddin’s comments against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s leadership. While going to lengths to distance RJD chief Lalu Prasad from these outbursts, JD(U) leaders made it clear in Delhi as well as Patna that they expect the RJD to rein in such leaders.
A day after former MP Shahabuddin, freshly out on bail, had described Nitish as a “chief minister of circumstances”, former Union minister Raghuvansh agreed Sunday and said he had been against Nitish’s selection as CM but gone by the decision of the grand alliance. On Monday, Nitish held a meeting with senior ministers and reportedly expressed displeasure at Raghuvansh’s attack. Avoiding a direct mention of Shahabuddin, the party was unanimous in sending the RJD a message to rein in its leaders, sources said.
In Delhi, the JD(U)’s Shyam Rajak and general secretary K C Tyagi both told The Indian Express they don’t believe Lalu endorses Raghuvansh’s remarks. Rajak, deputy leader of the House in the Bihar assembly, went to the extent of saying Raghuvansh was doing vidhva vilaap (widow wail) after having “lost relevance”.
Tyagi said Raghuvansh’s statement was of a kind that “weakens the goodwill and unity” of the alliance. “The JD(U) is saddened by the outbursts of Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. We believe he is prejudiced and his intentions are mala fide… Naturally, whenever he raises a question mark over Nitish’s leadership, he makes the alliance uncomfortable and spoils its image,” Tyagi said.
“I don’t think all this is being encouraged by Lalu Prasadji. Lalu is a big leader in the alliance. After all, it was Lalu Prasadji who announced Nitish Kumar’s candidature as chief minister,” Tyagi added. “No JD(U) leader has so far made any remarks against Laluji or any other leader of RJD. Nobody from the JD(U) has made any statement that goes against coalition dharma.”
Rajak urged the RJD leadership to “rein in such people and take action against them”. in Patna, JD(U) minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav echoed him: “Lalu should rein in Raghuvansh, who keeps attacking government and the CM. It is the responsibility of both the RJD and the JD(U) to ensure smooth functioning of the government.”
Some time earlier, Raghuvansh had criticised Nitish’s prohibition policy and accused him of being on an “overdrive” to force a liquor ban after having allegedly brought liquor to every household. Rajak said, “Laluji had said the decision on prohibition was taken after consultation with him.”
Tyagi said every single statement that Raghuvansh makes seeks to vindicate the BJP, which has claimed all through that the grand alliance would not last.
A BJP delegation met Governor Ramnath Kovind Monday, demanding the state government book Shahabudin under the Crime Control Act to get him back in jail. “The government should be aware that Shahabuddin can influence evidence in the Rajiv Roshan murder case,” BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.
Tyagi said criminals in Bihar were able to dodge the judicial system because they were able to arm-twist witnesses to resile from their statements during trials. He said Nitish had foiled their designs by setting up 179 special fast-track courts and declared that action would be taken against the SHO concerned if any witness went back on his statement at the time of his deposition in the court.
“As a result, 55,000 criminals, including Shahabuddin and some JD(U) MLAs, were sentenced.” Tyagi said.