Patna/New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) The RJD today threw its weight behind embattled Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav and rejected the demand for his resignation after he was made an accused in the land-for-hotel case being probed by the CBI.
A meeting of top party leaders and legislators also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP of trying to “fix” RJD president Lalu Prasad with the help of the government machinery.
JD(U), meanwhile, broke its silence on the issue of CBI raids on premises linked to Lalu and his relatives, with party veteran Sharad Yadav dubbing it an attempt to frustrate efforts for forming a grand alliance of opposition parties at the national level to take on the NDA.
The RJD legislature party met here today in the presence of Lalu, his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi and their two sons–Tejashwi and Tej Pratap– both ministers in the Nitish Kumar government and rejected outright the BJP’s demand for the deputy chief minister’s resignation following the Friday raids.
Although Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has not publicly spoken about the raids 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, senior RJD leader Jagdanand Singh said the two spoke on phone last night.
Singh said Nitish called up Lalu but refused to divulge what transpired during the telephonic talks.
The case relates to the period when Lalu was the railway minister. Apart from Lalu, his wife and son Tejashwi have been made accused in the case.
Meanwhile, former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav has called the raids an attempt at stalling the formation of a grand alliance at the national level.
“These raids are an attempt at stalling the formation of a grand alliance at the national level, but it cannot be stopped,” he said in New Delhi.
Yadav said leaders of the two parties would meet to discuss the issue and it was not proper for him to speak more on it.
Kumar, who was in Rajgir for the last few days, returned to the state capital last night. However, his continued silence on the raids further fuelled speculation over the strained ties between the two allies that are part of the 3- party ruling coalition in Bihar which includes the Congress.
Cancellation of the chief minister’s weekly ‘Lok Samvad’ programme, which was scheduled for today, also added to the speculation.
Emerging from the RJD Legislature Party meeting, Finance Minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui told reporters, “The meeting praised Tejashwi Yadav’s work as RJD Legislature Party leader.”
Mundrika Prasad Yadav and Ramanuj Prasad, both RJD MLAs, were more forthcoming saying, there was no question of Tejashwi’s resignation.
Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Tejashwi and his minister brother Tej Pratap were present at the meeting of legislators and other senior leaders of the party.
Asked about Nitish Kumar’s silence on the raids, Siddiqui said, “Our chief minister is not keeping mum, rather he believes in work.”
Accompanied by RJD chief whip in the Assembly Lalit Yadav and senior party leader Jagdanand Singh, Siddiqui blamed the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the action against Lalu Prasad and his family.
“The BJP and the PM are trying to fix Lalu Prasad with the help of government machinery,” he alleged.
“But whenever such a situation has arisen the RJD has bounced back with double its strength,” he said.
Siddiqui said the July 17 presidential election and the RJD’s proposed rally in Patna against the BJP on August 27 were discussed at the meeting.
The RJD legislators said they would not leave any stone unturned to make the “BJP Hatao, Desh Bachao” (oust BJP, save country)” rally a grand success, Siddiqui said.
Lalu Prasad has claimed that Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal and senior Left party leaders would attend the rally which would showcase the “unity” of non-BJP parties before the parliamentary election in 2019.
Meanwhile, amid reports of a rift in the JD(U)-RJD alliance, Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai said in the national capital that his MLAs would lend outside support to the Nitish Kumar government in the event of a split in the state’s ruling coalition if the party’s central leadership so decides.
Rai, who met BJP chief Amit Shah earlier in the day, said the party would extend support to Nitish Kumar only to prevent Bihar’s “slide into anarchy” and not be a part of the government.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.