There are flashing lights all around the alliance between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav in Bihar with a 72-hour deadline reportedly set to determine the government's future.
- Nitish Kumar's alliance with Lalu Yadav close to break point in Bihar
- Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu's son, told to provide detailed response to CBI case
- Want this within 72 hours, say sources close to Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wants Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi to resign by Saturday evening. Publicly, however, his party's KC Tyagi said that the urgent need is for the Yadavs to furnish a detailed explanation to the public of the corruption charges against them.
Tejashwi Yadav, who is 28 and Deputy Chief Minister, is named in a corruption case against his father that saw their Patna home raided on Friday by the CBI. The Yadavs have said the case - dating to Lalu's time as union Railways Minister - is the centre's way of punishing the 69-year-old for his persistent campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But yesterday, Nitish Kumar told a meeting of his Janata Dal United that the defense offered so far by the Yadavs is inadequate. "Those charged with corruption must come clean," he said, adding that he will not waver from his "zero-tolerance to corruption" policy.
Lalu Yadav's party met last night and concluded that an elaborate rejoinder to the CBI charges would amount to thrusting Tejashwi Yadav into "a kangaroo court" and expose him to "whipping" by opponents and the investigating agency.
At the conclave, the party advised him that it's time to unmoor the two-year-old partnership. Another Yadav son, Tej Pratap - is a cabinet minister - and the family has accumulated a damaging mix of charges ranging from money-laundering to proxy-owned or benami properties. Misa Bharti, Lalu Yadav's daughter who is an MP, has been interrogated in Delhi several times this week.
Nitish Kumar's comments yesterday - the first since the Yadavs were raided - offered little reason to believe that the current collaboration is not in wind-down phase.
Sources close to the Yadavs say that in order to prevent the humiliation of Tejashwi formally being asked to exit the government, Lalu Yadav may pull his 12 ministers which means he would exit the government but offer the narrative of providing unconditional support to the Chief Minister - in exchange for nothing.
For Nitish Kumar, the corruption cases against the Yadavs are serendipitous, coming at a time when he seems increasingly more comfortable with supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, rather than contesting them. From the controversial notes ban to the election for the President of India, the Chief Minister has teamed with the BJP, while claiming the common ground is exceptional and not customary.
Few buy that claim including his allies. And he is now openly being solicited by the BJP, which has said that if he ends his alliance, it will lend its support to keep him in office.