JD(U), RJD head for split over Tejashwi

tejaswi

HIGHLIGHTS

  • JD(U) sources said they expected Tejashwi to reply to the charges in CBI FIR by next week
  • RJD maintains to its ‘BJP conspiracy theory,’ said Tejashwi likely to clarify during mega rally on August 27
  • National leaders from major opposition parties and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expected to be present at the rally

NEW DELHI/PATNA: JD(U) and its partner RJD on Thursday appeared to be heading towards a break-up after the former publicly rejected Lalu Prasad’s stand that his son, deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, owed no explanation as to how he acquired disproportionate assets which he never declared.

Chief of JD(U)’s Bihar unit Bashishth Narayan Singh, as well as party general secretary Sanjay Jha, said Tejashwi, Lalu’s heir apparent, ought to give a point-by-point explanation of how he ended up being the owner of properties in different parts of the country, shoving aside RJD’s stand that the deputy chief minister had been framed by “communal” BJP, and hence, did not need to offer a detailed rejoinder.

“Nitish Kumar is leading the coalition government and JD(U)’s stand on corruption is clear. The party expects Tejashwi to give a clear-cut explanation (on charges of corruption). Nitish will take an appropriate decision (on Tejashwi) at the right time,” Singh said, adding JD(U) had not sought Tejashwi’s resignation.

Jha, Nitish’s close political aide, stressed that the CM was at the forefront to demand tough action against those holding Benami properties. “In his public meeting in Madhubani after demonetization was announced, Nitishji had publicly said demonetization was not enough and war against Benami properties will be more effective. How can Nitishji sit with a person next to him (Tejashwi) until he comes clean,” Jha said, adding that JD(U) would spell out its stand if its insistence was not needed shortly.

 The relentless demand for specific response to each of the charges levelled against Tejashwi has worsened the standoff and can potentially unravel the coalition if none of the estranged partners blink. RJD made it clear that it was in no mood to appease Nitish immediately. JD(U) sources said they expected Tejashwi to reply to the charges in CBI’s FIR against him by next week. RJD, however, stuck to its conspiracy charge and said Tejashwi would respond to the charges only at the RJD rally scheduled for August 27.
“Rally will be the ideal platform for Tejashwiji because not only common people and supporters of RJD but opposition stalwarts including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul, bosses of SP and BSP Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, as well as Nitish Kumar will be present,” a senior RJD source said.

The CBI on July 5 filed an FIR against Tejashwi for being the owner of Lara (Lalu-Rabri) Projects LLP, which allegedly transferred three acres of land near Saguna Mor in Patna by a hotelier in exchange for a contract to run two hotels belonging to Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation when Lalu was railway minister between 2004 and 2009. The ownership of the prime land came to be vested in Tejashwi and others after a maze of transactions and with the alleged connivance of the then chairman of IRCTC.

Even as sources in CBI claimed they had a very “robust” case against Tejashwi, ED is about to launch its own probe, a development which may lead to attachment of the properties in question. The ED has started examining the circumstances in which Tejashwi acquired control of a company, AK Exports, following what sources called “prima facie illegal transactions”.

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