Fate of Bihar grand alliance ministry

Arun Srivastava

In politics, the ruling party does not always malign and implicate its opponents for sending them to jail but mainly to convey a larger message to the polity, to other political outfits; that they could be destroyed if they are not cautious. Actually this is exactly what has been going on in Bihar in recent days. The BJP targeting Lalu Yadav and his sons and daughter is part of the grand design to force him to shut his mouth ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On Friday the CBI raided properties allegedly owned and associated with Lalu and his family members. It also registered a corruption case against him on July 5 for some of his alleged actions when he was Union railway minister. However, unfazed by the raids, the RJD chief rubbished the corruption charges saying that he is the target of a "BJP conspiracy". "Me and my party will not be cowed down. It is a conspiracy against me. They have been implicating me for a long time. Their latest action has not come as a surprise,”. Lalu asserted. He claimed that no wrong had been done in the tendering and this was a BJP conspiracy. “The BJP government is striking down anyone who speaks against them. Because of their (the BJP's) political vendetta, they are making constant attacks on my family. They want us to bow down before the BJP. But I won't be cowed down. I fought their earlier machinations and this time too I will fight,” he added.
The CB I has accused Lalu of having got a payoff for enabling a private company to get a tender to maintain two Railways hotels. The tender process was allegedly "tweaked". It conducted simultaneous raids in 12 locations n Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurugram. The raids began at 7:30 am Friday. The CBI alleged that Lalu received three acres of land - through a multi-layered process - in exchange for granting a private company "rigged" tenders to maintain two railways hotels when he was railway minister”. The tenders were granted through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) between 2004 and 2009 when Lalu was railway minister. The CBI alleges that the Patna land was illegally transferred to Lalu’s family as a favour, in exchange for a 15-year lease given to an entrepreneur named Harsh Kocchar to run the two hotels in Puri and Ranchi.
Kocchar sold the two-acre plot in Patna to a company owned by the wife of an MP from Lalu's party named Prem Gupta. Later, the land was transferred in the name of Lalu’s wife and sons. The CBI has also registered a case against P K Goyal, the man who headed the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation or IRCTC, over the hotel lease.
In the wake of recent court strictures against some top CBI officials and the agency being accused of illegally implicating some innocent persons in the coal scam and G2, it has lost much of its credibility in the eyes of the people. Senior RJD leaders strongly hold the view the charges will fall through. But till then it would work like an irritant.
They also nurse the feeling that through this machination, grounds are being prepared by the BJP leadership to facilitate Nitish Kumar to part company with Lalu. Nitish had in the past promised to curb corruption and also said he had zero tolerance towards corruption. This would provide him with the right opportunity to refurbish his political image, which has been getting smeared in the wake of recent failures of the government and the abrupt rise in the crime.
Meanwhile, speculations are rife in the political circles that Nitish is all set to sever his relations with Lalu and his RJD. This is imperative for sending the message that so far he has been accommodating Laluji, but now in view of his involvement in corruption and the subsequent CBI raids, it is no more possible. As such, the JD(U) is parting company. The BJP is ready to swing into action and form a coalition government. What is interesting to watch is that two senior BJP leaders, Sushil Mody and leader of opposition Prem Kumar have already emerged as serious contenders for the job of the deputy chief minister. Interestingly, Sushil Modi said, “Nothing can be ruled out in politics… I just told Nitish that we will see what we can do only when he comes out of this alliance.”       
While some senior JD(U) leaders are of the opinion that they should not rush, the BJP is creating pressure. The JD(U) leadership held a closed door meeting of its spokespersons the other day and advised them to prepare the people of the state psychologically in favour of the party’s actions and its stand towards Lalu Yadav.            
Party leaders also share the view that the anti-incumbency feeling against the government has been quite high. The party can use this occasion to dump it on RJD and put the blame on it for the failures. Ever since the mahagathbandhan came to power, the BJP and ghe upper caste people of Bihar have been blaming Lalu for usurping all the powers and interfering in the functioning of the government. Some officials even used to visit Lalu’s residence to take instructions from him. 
JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi, a close confidante of Nitish, has already commented; “The grand alliance cannot be saved…We were much more comfortable with the BJP”. Some BJP and JD(U) leaders  also confide it is the case. (IPA)

Friday, 14 July, 2017