How Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s Stand on ED Action Against Deputy Tejashwi Can Damage His ‘Sushasan Babu’ Image


Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee

Last Updated: March 13, 2023, 09:00 IST

The recent ED raids against Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, with the agency officially claiming to have found illicit proceeds to the tune of Rs 600 crore, have again come to haunt CM Nitish Kumar. (Image: PTI/File)

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has come a full circle in his stand on corruption – from breaking up with RJD in 2017 over “no tolerance” to citing present ED action on his deputy Tejashwi Yadav as a result of JDU’s renewed alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party

From feeling “suffocated” in the alliance with the RJD due to corruption cases against his deputy Tejashwi Yadav in 2017 and pulling out, to citing the present ED action against him in a similar case as a fallout of his party’s renewed alliance – Bihar chief minister and ‘Sushasan Babu’ Nitish Kumar has come a full circle in his stand on corruption.

In the topsy-turvy alliance politics of Bihar, Nitish has done political somersaults multiple times. But his changing stand on tolerance for corruption threatens to damage his still-surviving legacy of a clean image.

Sample this: Nitish had tied up with his arch rival Lalu Prasad Yadav in 2015 after breaking up with the BJP despite Lalu’s conviction in a fodder scam case in 2013 and him being barred from contesting any election for 11 years. This was after the JDU, including its leaders like the late Sharad Yadav and present chief Rajiv Ranjan Singh, had led the fight against Lalu. But this history was buried and JDU-RJD won Bihar.

The 2017 July split was done by Nitish on the plank of “no tolerance for corruption” as CBI lodged the IRCTC scam case against Tejashwi and his family members, and he sought an explanation and his resignation as deputy CM. Lalu, who was not in jail then, refused to comply and Nitish walked back into the BJP’s arms.

The dice seemed to have been cast for soured ties between JDU and RJD since Lalu was convicted in another fodder scam case in December 2017 and went back to jail. In fact, Lalu was convicted in three more fodder scam cases, taking the total to five convictions before Nitish pulled off another surprise last August and tied up with the RJD.

On the face of it, the new alliance was an antithesis to his ‘Sushasan Babu’ image, given that a court had found Lalu guilty of corruption five times. But the arrangement before 2017 was repeated with Tejashwi becoming deputy CM and Lalu’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav also returning as minister.

The recent ED raids against Tejashwi, with the agency officially claiming to have found illicit proceeds to the tune of Rs 600 crore, have again come to haunt the chief minister. He was forced to react on Saturday saying the raids were happening as the JDU and RJD rejoined hands last year, while refusing to go into the nitty-gritty of the charges in the ‘land for jobs’ scam.

But the JDU’s top leaders, Rajiv Ranjan Singh, have earlier questioned Tejashwi on the ‘land for jobs’ scam during the 2020 state elections and asked him to come clean. Rajiv Ranjan is now backing Tejashwi and saying the alliance will not break at any cost.

In between all of this, the BJP is losing no chance to take potshots at Nitish. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and former deputy CM, Sushil Modi on Sunday said Nitish was in fact “very happy” with the ED action against Tejashwi as this had removed the pressure on him to make way for Lalu’s son as the next CM before the 2025 assembly polls.

Recently, JDU leader Upendra Kushwaha had also quit the party citing RJD’s “pressure” to make Tejashwi the CM. Modi, meanwhile, even claimed that it was on Nitish Kumar’s directions that Rajiv Ranjan made documents available to investigating agencies in the ‘land for jobs’ scam. A senior BJP leader told News18 that it remains to be seen what the CM will do if Tejashwi is arrested in the case by CBI or the ED like Manish Sisodia was recently arrested.

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