PATNA: In signs of a widening rift in Bihar's ruling coalition, Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav today skipped an official event in Patna where he was to share the stage with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Mr Yadav's nameplate on the dias was first covered with a cloth, apparently by Mr Kumar's party JD-U, and then finally removed. The development has strengthened speculation that the crisis between the Nitish Kumar's party and the Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal has further deepened over allegations of corruption against the RJD chief and his family. The Chief Minister has indicated that he would prefer his deputy Tejashwi Yadav to exit the government if unable to present a rebuttal to the CBI's charges against him.
Tejashwi Yadav, 28, has been named in a corruption case along with father Lalu Prasad Yadav. The case accuses Lalu Yadav of venality during his term as Railway Minister at the centre to acquire a sweetheart deal for three acres of land in Patna, jointly owned by Tejashwi, his mother Rabri Devi and his siblings. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last week raided the residence of Lalu, also named in the case, and other properties in five cities.
Lalu Yadav's party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, has indicated that it is under no pressure as it has the most seats in the Bihar assembly - 80 of 234. "Tejashwi will not resign at any cost. The RJD has 80 legislators. We will do what we want," party leader Bhai Virender said in Patna. Nitish Kumar's party retaliated by asking the RJD to shrug off the "arrogance". "The RJD, which is showing the arrogance of 80 MLAs, should not forget that it was reduced to 22 MLAs in 2010 state poll," said Sanjay Singh of the JD-U.
The JD-U has 71 MLAs and the third alliance partner Congress 27, while the BJP, which is the main opposition party in the House, has 53 legislators and has already volunteered external support - siding with Nitish Kumar in a vote to keep him in office - if Lalu Yadav's party RJD withdraws support.
Lalu Yadav, however, has indicated that he will do what it takes to keep the Bihar alliance intact."I will not allow the maha-gathbandhan (alliance) to suffer" he told ndtv.com on Thursday evening, signaling that his son Tejashwi may eventually yield the resignation sought by Nitish Kumar.
- Input: IANS