- Lalu Yadav's son, Tejashwi, refuses to quit Bihar government
- He is accused of graft by the CBI; Nitish Kumar wants him to resign
- Nitish Kumar asks his other ally, Sonia Gandhi, to decide what next
Bihar is run by three parties: Tejashwi Yadav's father, Lalu Yadav, brings the most lawmakers to the table; next is Nitish Kumar's party, the Janata Dal United or JDU; the Congress is the smallest player, but its chief, Sonia Gandhi, has been asked to mediate the current standoff, now nearly 10 days old. The Chief Minister is reportedly upset that Tejashwi Yadav has not sought a meeting with him to discuss the corruption case. The Congress, for its part, feels both sides are being obstinate.
Auguring the scale of the crisis - and the difficulty of downgrading it - Nitish Kumar has cancelled a trip that was scheduled for this week to Delhi. Though the agenda was to meet his party's national executive, he was expected to meet on the sidelines with Sonia Gandhi to signal his commitment to exhausting all options before he ends the current alliance. Sharad Yadav, a senior leader from his party, met with Sonia Gandhi on the weekend; today, he tweeted, "Corruption is menace & stringent action should be taken but action needs to be taken against all and not against selected and in opposition."
The Yadavs and their party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, have said it's unfair to expect a resignation based on accusations by the CBI. No evidence has been offered thus far, they claim, because the agency has not yet produced a chargesheet which would mean a case is filed in court. But Nitish Kumar says that his "zero-tolerance towards corruption" policy cannot be undermined. On Friday, his aides confirmed that he had phoned Sonia Gandhi to suggest she lead the negotiations for a resolution.
"There's no question of making any concession," said Sanjay Singh, a spokesperson for the Chief Minister's party, as the Congress' top leader in Bihar, Ashok Chaudhary, confabulated with both warring parties.
Apart from enthusiastically espousing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's November decision to ban high-denomination notes, Nitish Kumar has chosen to back the BJP's candidate for President of India in today's election, which means he is voting against his allies who have put up their own nominee.
The BJP has abandoned any coyness and said that it is also ready with external support should Nitish Kumar cut short the run of his current arrangement. Sources close to him say he wants to convey that he gave his best to saving the alliance in Bihar before exiting it; sources in Lalu Yadav's party, on the other hand, say their boss will try to expose Nitish Kumar's anti-BJP credentials as feigned by refusing to cut off support to the Bihar government.