Amid the simmering tension within the Grand Alliance in Bihar in the wake of corruption charges against deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, all eyes are now on July 28 when the Monsoon Session of the Assembly is scheduled to begin. A day after party chief and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and reportedly discussed the strain in the alliance, JD(U) Sunday raised its anti-corruption pitch. Opposition BJP, on the other hand, threatened to disrupt House proceedings if Tejashwi does not resign.
While two JD(U) leaders told The Indian Express that there cannot be “any compromise on corruption”, former party president and MP Sharad Yadav called on RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Nitish to “save the Grand Alliance”.
“Efforts should be taken to keep the Grand Alliance intact. Both (Lalu and Nitish) should talk to each other. Besides saving the Grand Alliance, efforts should be made to forge a larger Opposition alliance at the national level,” Yadav said. JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi, however, warned that if “corruption is brushed under carpet”, the Grand Alliance will meet the fate UPA II met in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“If the Bihar government continues in this pattern, even after surfacing of cases, and corruption is brushed under the carpet, there is a danger that the Grand Alliance could meet UPA II’s fate,” he said. Alluding to corruption cases like 2G in which fingers were raised at UPA ally DMK, he said, “Then PM Manmohan Singh was not corrupt, but there were corruption allegations against his cabinet colleagues. There was a perception that he could not act against graft. Nitish Kumar has to ensure that the UPA-II scenario is not repeated in Bihar, and also save the alliance. This is not the responsibility of the JD(U) alone, but also of Congress and RJD,” Tyagi said.
He added that while Nitish is yet to seek Tejashwi’s resignation, the deputy CM “has to explain point-by-point before the media and people the charges levelled against him and come clean.” Ajay Alok is one of the four JD(U) spokespersons against whom Tejashwi’s supporters put out posters in Patna, alleging he had launched a tirade against the RJD leader at the behest of the BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi. Alok told The Indian Express, “The JD(U) is not going to compromise if alliance partners choose to condone corruption. The fight against communalism cannot be carried out with hands deep in corruption.”
Another JD(U) spokesperson from Patna predicted a “decisive action” by Nitish before July 28. The spokesperson added that if Tejashwi does not resign, options before Nitish include expelling him, resigning himself and writing to the Governor for a fresh vote of trust and then think of taking outside support from the BJP.
Senior BJP leader in Bihar Sushil Modi said that if Tejashwi does not resign by July 27, the party will disrupt the Assembly session. “How can a tainted minister be allowed to sit beside the Chief Minister?” he said.
The RJD, meanwhile, has dug in its heels on the resignation demand. Party spokesperson Manoj Jha called the charges against Tejashwi a “textbook example of BJP’s new strategy”. He said his party has been “appealing to friends and well-wishers of the alliance not to fall for the narrative employed by the BJP leadership”.
Terming it a “legal issue with political overtones”, he said the RJD shall fight and overcome it. “It is outrageous to see the manner in which they (BJP) have employed central agencies to discredit voices of opposition.”