In a move that could further strain ties between ruling partners in Bihar, Janata Dal(United) on Tuesday asked the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to place facts before the public to dispel graft charges against its leader and deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav. Yadav is facing inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a corruption case.
JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar, after a crucial meeting of the party, said that people accused of wrongdoings should present their case before public with facts.
“Those who were charged should put the facts before the public…we have proved before the nation that we have zero tolerance for corruption,” Neeraj Kumar, state spokesman of the JD(U), told reporters while briefing about the meeting.
"Our party is known for doing 'politics with a difference'," Neeraj Kumar accompanied by other spokespersons Sunil Kumar Singh, Ajay Alok and Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said.
Ahead of the meeting, JD(U) leaders had made it clear that there would be "no compromise" with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's policy of "zero tolerance" against corruption.
The meeting that lasted for four hours was called by Nitish at his residence to discuss the political situation in Bihar arising out of the growing demand for the resignation of Tejashwi, son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.
What Nitish said at the meeting
Chairing a crucial meeting of JD(U) legislators, ex- legislators, office bearers and district chiefs, Nitish, who is also JD(U) national president, was quoted as saying that his party knows how to follow "gatbandhan dharma" (coalition dharma) and also making "political sacrifices".
"Party knows how to follow gatbandhan dharma...JD(U) has a record of facing political challenges by making political sacrifices," Neeraj Kumar said.
Nitish has not publicly commented on the issue of CBI raids on premises linked to Tejashwi and his family members. The raids were carried out in connection with handing over the maintenance of two railway-run hotels to private parties allegedly in return for a prime piece of land to Lalu's family in Patna.
According to party sources, Nitish told his leaders that he would not tolerate any stain on the clean image of his government and people against whom accusations have been levelled should quit the post. He conveyed the same message to Lalu Yadav.
"People of Bihar and political groups in the nation know our tradition on matters like crime and corruption," Nitish was quoted as saying in the meeting.
"There are examples in the government headed by JD(U) of taking hard decisions for sake of political proprietary," he added.
JD(U) general secretary Sanjay Jha, who was present in the meeting, said the CM told the meeting how he had tendered his resignation as railway minister on moral grounds despite then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not in favour of it after the Gaisal train accident during NDA rule in 1999.
Though official spokesman Neeraj Kumar was tight lipped while talking about deliberations during the meeting at 1, Anne Marg which lasted for over three hours, some JD(U) legislators and other leaders were more forthcoming.
MLC Raj Kishore Kushwaha told reporters that Nitish said that "Law would take its own course while government would do its work".
Former minister and senior JD(U) leader Ramai Ram claimed a time of four days has been set (for RJD to come out with facts in public) before the party takes a future course of action.
Before the start of the meeting Sanjay Jha and others made it clear that there would be "no compromise" with Nitish's policy of "zero tolerance" against corruption.
Accusations against Tejashwi Yadav
Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, his father and RJD president Lalu Prasad and mother Rabri Devi, figure in the CBI FIR in the case related to three acres of land given to the family by a private party in return for licence given for hotels of IRCTC at Ranchi and Puri in 2006 when Lalu Prasad was railway minister.
The BJP has demanded Tejashwi's resignation in view of the charges against him. The BJP has also offered its support to the JD(U) from outside if it breaks out of Grand Alliance, also comprising the RJD and the Congress. In 243-member Bihar Assembly, the RJD has 80 MLAs, the JD(U) has 71 while the Congress has 27 seats.
RJD rejects demand of Tejashwi's resignation
RJD has stuck to its guns and ruled out resignation of Tejaswi.
"Tejaswi Yadav's work as Deputy Chief Minister and minister of road construction and building construction has been appreciated and no allegation has been levelled against him during the period...hence there is no question of his resignation," state RJD president Ramchandra Purbe told reporters after the JD(U) meeting.
His party colleagues Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Mundrika Singh Yadav and minister Shiv Chander Ram also echoed similar views.
Lalu Prasad who had gone to Ranchi for appearance in a fodder scam case returned to Patna in the evening and held a meeting of RJD leaders at his 10, Circular Road residence.
After the meeting that lasted 2 hours, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said, "We have been to people's court and we will again go there. The BJP wants to break the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) but it is strong."