Nitish Kumar led Janata Dal United (JDU) on Tuesday said that they are committed to the Mahagathbandhan alliance which also includes Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress but added that its stand on “crime and corruption is well known” and it has “set an example by asking ministers facing cases to resign in the past.”
The comments come after the calls for RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son and Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav to resign after CBI named him in a FIR on charges of corruption and cheating.
Tejashwi, who attended the Cabinet meeting called by Nitish alongwith elder brother Tej Pratap, described corruption charges levelled against him as a conspiracy hatched by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"I was just 13 or 14 when the sale of railway hotels took place. (2004 mein humari moochein bhi nahi aayi thi. 13-14 saal ka baccha ye sab kaise kar sakta hai?)," Tejashwi Yadav told reporters in Patna.
"I had pledged zero tolerance on corruption when I took over as minister. Not one case of corruption has been reported in any of the three departments I hold so far," he said.
"FIR against me is political vendetta. Conspiracy by Amit Shah and PM Modi. From Day 1 they have been trying to break our alliance but Mahagathbandhan is will not break and BJP will get a befitting reply," Tejashwi, who has been named by the CBI in a land-for-hotel case, said.
"First, they feared my father (Lalu) and now they are nervous of me also and therefore they are targeting me," a defiant Tejashwi said.
He went on to play the caste card asserting that since he came from backward caste, the BJP was targeting him.
"People of Bihar elected me. I have been doing good work which has made the BJP and their leaders nervous. I am being targeted because I belong to backward caste," he said.
RJD chief Lalu Yadav has already made it clear that his son won't step down .
In his first interview after last week's CBI raids on his family and associates, the former Bihar CM categorically ruled out Tejashwi resigning from Nitish Kumar's Cabinet.
Lalu described the CBI raids as part of a conspiracy hatched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to "finish off him and his party - RJD".
"Tejashwi was a minor...cricket player when the hotel deal was finalised. These are baseless allegations," he said.
Nitish's JD-U had on Tuesday asked Tejashwi Yadav, an accused in the land-for-hotels scandal, to "come out with facts in public against the accusations" but stopped short of demanding his resignation.
As per Indian Express, RJD reacted to this and said that Tejashwi would not resign on the “basis of a case foisted by CBI out of political vendetta.” RJD had called a meeting on July 10, regarding the same.
Nitish recalled the event when the Bihar CM resigned from the Vajpayee government on moral grounds after the Gaisal train incident of 1999. He also recounted BJP leader LK Advani and JDU’s Sharad Yadav resigning during the Hawala scandal of the 1990s.
Sources added that Nitish also referred to other resignations of ministers during his previous tenure to stress on his “zero tolerance against corruption.”
JDU national general secretary Sanjay Jha, who also attended the meeting that was held yesterday said,”Brand Bihar has been created with great effort by Nitish Kumar and JD(U). We will not let that get diluted at any cost.
Party legislators and workers were unanimous that Nitish Kumar’s clean image and developmental governance are the main assets of the party, and that we will not compromise on these whatever be the cost. We are ready to bear any consequence for our policy of zero tolerance against corruption.”
Speaking to reporters after in Patna, JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said, “One who is facing a CBI case should present facts in his defence to the people and before the media. It is the RJD that has to take a decision on Tejashwi. As for us, everyone knows we have set an example by obtaining the resignation of our leaders, whether it was the matter of Jitan Ram Manjhi in 2005, and Ramanand Singh and three other ministers later.”
The RJD, however, appeared reluctant and downplayed calls for Tejashwi’s resignation. RJD Minister Shivachandra Ram said,”RJD legislators have decided unanimously that Tejashwi would not resign. His performance as a minister has been extraordinary and we look up to him as our leader,” as per the IE reports.
Meanwhile, BJP leader for Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi while talking to Indian Express said,”We expect the RJD to listen to Nitish. As for Congress lending support to RJD, it has always supported Lalu Prasad despite him being a convict in a corruption case.”