Nitish, who was to sit next to deputy CM, asked for a change of seat.
Patna: In a clear sign of a deepening rift in the ruling coalition in Bihar, Lalu Yadav’s son and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav skipped an event where he was to share a dais with chief minister Nitish Kumar.
The organisers of the event removed his nameplate before the chief minister arrived at the spot. Nitish Kumar was to sit beside Tejashwi and another RJD minister. However, he had asked for a change of seat.
Sources said the political situation was likely to aggravate as the deadline set by the JD(U) for Tejashwi Yadav to furnish a public explanation of the corruption charges against him expired on Saturday. JD(U) had hinted that Mr Kumar wanted Mr Yadav to quit the government if he failed to prove his innocence.
After returning from Ranchi on Friday, RJD chief Lalu Yadav had clarified that his son would not resign from the post of deputy chief minister.
Lalu Yadav had said, “Tejashwi was elected by the people and an FIR is not enough reason for resignation. He will not quit under any circumstances.”
Mr Kumar seems to have toughened his stand after Mr Yadav’s statement on Friday. The JD(U) is expected to discuss the issue during a legislative party meet in Patna on Sunday.
Tejashwi Yadav, too, has repeatedly said that cases against him and his family were a well-planned conspiracy by the BJP to damage Lalu Yadav’s campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources, however, said that discussions were being initiated to find a middle path to end the ongoing political turmoil in Bihar and also, to save the grand secular alliance government.
Mr Yadav has said that his party would not leave the Mahagathbandhan in the state. Observers said that the turmoil between RJD and JD (U) would not only lead to a political crisis but might also affect the unity of Opposition parties at the national level against the BJP.
This is a strange situation Nitish Kumar is facing in his long political career, where his hands seem to be tied and he is unable to take a decision.
When he had formed a government in alliance with the BJP in Bihar he had taken no time in seeking resignation from ministers after their names had surfaced in various cases.
This time, so far he has failed to show a firm grip on the administration and his alliance partners. That could be because his party is numerically weaker to the RJD and from the beginning, the chief minister has been under pressure from Lalu Yadav.
“Since RJD is the largest party with 80 seats and Lalu Yadav is a bigger leader, so whatever decision he takes will be final,” senior RJD leader Bhai Virendra had said.
The BJP which has 53 seats in Bihar Assembly also looks eager to form the government. Earlier, BJP state president Nityanand Rai had said, “Discussions with the parliamentary board can be initiated, in case the RJD and the Congress broke the alliance in Bihar”.
On Saturday, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Prem Kumar said, “The central leadership of the party has been keeping a close watch on the developments and their decisions on the issue will be final”.