Will Mahaghatbandhan survive these blows?
Patna: Is the Mahaghatbandhan in Bihar on the verge of collapse? Is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar going to dump RJD chief Lalu Yadav? Is the stage set for BJP, JD(U) alliance in Bihar?
The events unfolding of late is only indicating towards it. Though Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav came together to keep away BJP, it is widely speculated since the beginning that two parties were not on the same page with one another. The friction was visible from before the Assembly elections during seat sharing. Though both managed to sail along, differences came into the light now and then, sometimes seriously.
The latest audio clip run by Republic TV, the convicted mafia don Shahabuddin was heard asking Lalu to remove Siwan Superintendent of Police Saurabh Kumar Shah. Your SP is useless… remove all of them… they will start a riot”, he said.
This is a great opportunity for JD(U) to dump Lalu, but the party reacted very cautiously, as usual, saying that the government will investigate purported conversation between Lalu and Shahabuddin aired by a media house. The government did not transfer the SP whose name is taken in the audio and it proves that our government never compromised on law and order, said spokesperson of JD(U).
Meanwhile, the RJD chose to defend Shahabuddin, saying that his party will not expel him. However, it was cautious and said that if he spoke from jail that was wrong and nothing should be interpreted from the audio clip.
This is not the first time that there was a controversy involving Shahabuddin. Last year in September the mafia don turned politician, Shahabuddin sparked off a controversy that exposed the frail coalition between JD (U) and RJD. He lauded his party boss Lalu Yadav and termed Nitish as a Chief Minister of circumstances, which snowballed into a slugfest between the alliance partners.
As usual, Nitish tried to downplay the controversy and claimed that State government is in no way involved with Shahabuddin’s release. Then also RJD chief protected his former MP Shahabuddin saying that “Shahabuddin has said nothing wrong. He has only said Lalu Yadav is leader. Nitish has no problem with his statement.” They buried the hatchet and got along after the incident.
While the RJD cadre feels that the present deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, should be made the Chief Minister, allegations about his involvement in sand mafia, real estate mafia are coming into light. As Lalu is on bail and cannot become the chief minister, he wants his son to become CM on his behalf. Lalu had high hopes on Congress’s performance in the recently held five State Assembly elections, but he was disappointed. If Congress had become stronger, it was speculated that he wanted to dump Nitish and make his son the CM.
The two parties are taking divergent views on every issue recently – be it demonetisation or campaigning in UP, they never had a unanimous decision. While Lalu vehemently criticised demonetisation, Nitish supported it. Lalu went to campaign in UP, Nitish chose to stay away. The differences were always visible, but they made the alliance work for the only reason- power.
But the serious allegations against alliance partners, again and again, might make Nitish think about continuing the alliance.
The BJP which has been on the winning spree and forming the governments by hook or crook in the States might take the opportunity to break the alliance and enter the coalition with JD(U). It would not be the first time for BJP to share power with JD(U), the experiment was done but ended bitterly. Since it has learnt lessons, it may be given another run.
And Nitish too wants a stronger partner. A friend at the Centre would help him keep up his election promises and getting the needed funds to put the State on the map of progress.