Nitish Kumar Will Decide If Deputy Tejashwi Yadav Should Quit, Says Congress

Tejashwi Yadav, 27, is the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and son of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Lalu Yadav and Tejashwi have been charged with corruption by the CBI.

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Nitish Kumar Will Decide If Deputy Tejashwi Yadav Should Quit, Says Congress

Tejashwi Yadav's fate in the Bihar cabinet should be decided by Nitish Kumar, said Congress.

Patna:  Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will decide on whether his deputy and Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi should resign, said the Congress' Bihar chief Ashok Chaudhury, who is also a minister in the state. Opposition party, the BJP, has said that Tejashwi must be sacked over charges of corrupt land deals and has cited Nitish Kumar's pledge of "zero tolerance for corruption." The Chief Minister is yet to comment.

Mr Kumar has, however, dealt another blow to opposition unity at the national level by deciding not to attend a meeting of 17 parties on Tuesday in Delhi. He will instead hold a meeting of leaders of his party the Janata Dal United in Patna on that day.

Mr Chaudhary, whose party is the third partner in Bihar's ruling alliance led by Nitish Kumar and that includes Lalu Yadav's RJD, dismissed speculation that the Chief Minister's decision not to attend the Delhi meeting and his silence over the charges of corruption against Mr Yadav and his family are ominous. "Nitish is not in good health. You shouldn't read between the lines. He will break his silence once he recovers," the Congress leader said.

Sources in the Congress said that Tejashwi Yadav's assertion on Friday that he will not resign has upset everyone, including Nitish Kumar and top leaders of the Congress. They agree that Tejashwi's intervention was unwarranted as Nitish Kumar, as the leader of their alliance, can choose to pick or drop anyone from his cabinet.

Amid reports that many in Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) too favour Tejashwi Yadav's ouster, Lalu Yadav has called a meeting of legislators from his party today to discuss the series of raids by enforcement agencies against him and members of his family. Mr Yadav has alleged that the BJP is using central agencies against them to exact "political revenge" for his unstinting criticism of the party and his efforts to get together opposition parties to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he seeks a second term in 2019.

The Congress is leading that effort to create an anti-BJP front, which was first suggested by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav earlier this year. But since then, Mr Kumar has ditched the opposition by announcing support for the BJP's nominee for President.

Tuesday's meeting in Delhi, to be chaired by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, will decide on a joint opposition's candidate for vice president. Sources say despite opting out of the meeting, Mr Kumar is likely to back the opposition's candidate this time. Unless, they say, the BJP nominates a leader from Bihar.

Sources close to the Chief Minister say that he is upset with the Congress' vocal support for Lalu Yadav. His cancelling his Delhi visit has also put a planned meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in question.

At his meeting tomorrow with party leaders, Mr Kumar is expected to share his first comments on the criminal charges against Lalu Yadav and his family.

It was Nitish Kumar's party that had several years ago first accused Lalu Yadav of the charges that are now being investigated by the CBI. At that time they were bitter rivals and Mr Kumar was an ally of the BJP. His recent actions are being seen as a signal that he could reconsider political alignments.

Lalu Yadav's RJD has the most legislators in the Bihar assembly. But Nitish Kumar has enough to ensure that he continues as Chief Minister if he were to ditch current allies Lalu Yadav and the Congress and take help from the BJP.

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