The Telegraph
Monday , July 17 , 2017

'Sacrifice' plea to Lalu for alliance

- Cong mediates, BJP no to mid-term poll

Patna, July 16: A senior Bihar Congress leader today asked RJD chief Lalu Prasad to "sacrifice", in a clear signal that the JDU has put the onus of saving the Grand Alliance on the third partner in the coalition, while the BJP hinted once again that it is ready to support chief minister Nitish Kumar if he walks out.

"Nitishji is in real pain and that's why things are taking time to unfold. He will take a decision after lot of thinking," Congress leader and animal and fish resources minister Awadhesh Kumar Singh said in Hindi at his residence. "Lalu Prasadji should also heed the mood of the country; he himself says the BJP has to be stopped. Bihar has a crucial role in stopping the BJP. The way Nitishji made sacrifices to form the Grand Alliance, similarly to stop the BJP Laluji will have to make some sacrifice or the other."

This is the first time any Congress leader has come out with a statement that virtually puts the ball in RJD's court.

The top leadership of the JDU approached the Congress as there had been no communication between Nitish and Lalu ever since the chief minister's party made it clear that it wanted deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav to come clean with a point-wise reply on the CBI charges against him in the land-for-hotels case, JDU sources told The Telegraph. The JDU, the sources said, has requested the Congress to convince Lalu to agree to the demand of Tejashwi's removal from the council of ministers in the wake of the FIR against him.

And it is a demand the JDU is sticking to.

"Everyone knows that Nitishji always maintains transparency; if allegations have been levelled, it is their duty to come out clean. Nitishji will never compromise on corruption," said JDU national general secretary Shyam Rajak.

JDU MLA Shyam Bahadur Singh was more blunt: "Tejashwi Yadav should resign."

A JDU insider said: "Instead of taking the onus on himself, Nitishji has requested the Congress to resolve the issue. He has informed the Congress leadership that he is willing to give a few more days to the party to convince Lalu."

The JDU insider's claim was corroborated by a Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee office bearer, who told The Telegraph on Sunday that senior JDU leader Sharad Yadav called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday and discussed the Bihar situation for about 40 minutes.

"After that, our state unit president Ashok Choudhary held talks with Laluji on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The exact outcome of these meetings have yet not been shared with us," the Congress office bearer said.

RJD insider, however, maintained that Lalu is sticking with his previous statement - that the charges against his family are nothing but political vendetta for trying to forge Opposition unity - and in all likelihood he will not backtrack on the issue of Tejashwi's resignation.

BJP needles

On JDU's efforts to salvage the Grand Alliance with Congress help, a senior BJP leader said that more than being serious about saving the alliance, the JDU wants to put the onus of problems in the alliance on the Congress and the RJD by taking high moral ground.

"Before parting ways with the BJP in 2013, Nitishji had called on many of our senior leaders including Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley telling them about his stand. He is doing something similar now," the BJP leader said. "The Grand Alliance of Bihar is over for all practical purposes."

On record, the party once again hinted that it was ready to prop Nitish up if he walks out of the alliance. Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi today said this party was against an "early election" in Bihar. "Both the RJD and the JDU should try to resolve the ongoing crisis."

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