| Manmohan Singh, Nitish Kumar |
Patna, Aug. 30: The JD(U) MPs have refused to join the BJP chorus demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation on the alleged coal block allocation scam issue.
Sources said chief minister Nitish Kumar had issued specific instructions to not ask for the PM’s scalp two years ahead of the Lok Sabha elections because of the alleged Rs 1.83 lakh crore scam.
Asked to explain the differences between the BJP and his party, state JD(U) president Basishtha Narayan Singh told The Telegraph, “We are not demanding the PM’s resignation. But we are stalling the proceedings of the House with the BJP over the issue. The NDA is united.”
BJP’s two national spokespersons Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudi came to Patna within an interval of a week to announce their fight for the resignation of the Prime Minister and muster support for the party. Rudi yesterday said his party cared more for the loss of over Rs 1.83 lakh crore than Rs 6 crore being spent on running the Parliament.
But the two high profile leaders hardly found any takers even in the state cadres of the JD(U). “We have instruction not to join any protest or demonstration with the BJP demanding the PM’s resignation,” said a state JD(U) spokesperson.
Sources said Nitish — the prime leader of his party for all practical purposes — does not want to antagonise the Prime Minister in particular and the Congress in general after extracting some major concession as “quid pro quo” for supporting Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential election.
What might have softened Nitish’s disposition towards the Prime Minister was Bihar getting coal linkage to Barauni thermal power plant’s expansion unit on the personal intervention of Manmohan Singh after the coal ministry had rejected the demand for it.
The Centre has also helped Nitish granting two central universities in Motihari and Gaya against the initial plan of only one.
Moreover, one phone call from Nitish to civil aviation minister Ajit Singh recently stalled the Airport Authority of India’s move to shut down the Patna airport.
So, while Prasad and Rudi solicited support for the fight in the House and on the streets for the PM’s resignation, Nitish remained busy in his official work and his party functionaries and cadres were out in the hinterlands to gather support for the JD(U)’s much-vaunted Adhikar rally in Patna on November 4.
Nitish has also stated time again that the Prime Minister did not wield the “political authority” and it was lying somewhere else (read: Sonia Gandh). He — unlike the BJP — has steadfastly refused to be “harsh” on Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister, too, shares an amiable personal chemistry with the Bihar chief minister.
Nitish shared how, breaking ranks with the NDA, he decided to support Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential nominee after the “Prime Minister personally called me.”
“The state’s political atmosphere is already agog with the growing trust deficit between the BJP and the JD(U),” said a senior Dal leader close to Nitish, adding: “The chief minister wants to keep his options open in the run-up the Lok Sabha elections.”