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Why Lalu Yadav delayed crucial support to Soren government

July 09, 2013 22:42 IST

Why Lalu Yadav delayed crucial support to Soren government

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Anita Katyal in New Delhi

While Hemant Soren enlisted the support of small parties and independent MLAs, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief kept the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader waiting till the apex court gave its verdict in the fodder scam case. Anita Katyal reports

Is there a link between the Supreme Court decision to suspend proceedings in the fodder scam case pending against Rashtriya Janata Dal Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in a Ranchi court and the formal move by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha to stake claim to form a government in Jharkhand?

According to well placed sources, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s support for the Hemant Soren government was contingent on a favourable Supreme Court verdict in the fodder scam case.

The RJD has five legislators in the Jharkhand assembly. The party’s support was critical for the formation of a government in the state, which has been under President’s rule since January.

The Congress and the JMM, with 13 and 18 legislators respectively, required the support of 11 more MLAs in the 82-member Jharkhand assembly.

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Image: Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters

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RJD chief had approached SC for transfer of case

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While Soren enlisted the support of other small parties and independent MLAs, the RJD chief kept the JMM leader waiting till the apex court gave its verdict.

It was only after he got a favourable order that Lalu Prasad Yadav gave his consent to join the new JMM-Congress coalition government. Soren subsequently sought an appointment with the governor to formally stake claim to form the government.

The RJD chief had approached the apex court for the transfer of his pending fodder scam case from the special CBI court in Ranchi to another court as he feared there would be bias against him. He had earlier approached the Jharkhand high court but it rejected his plea.

Lalu Prasad Yadav contended that Minu Devi, the younger sister of the trial court’s presiding judge, was married to the cousin of P K Shahi, who is presently a minister in the Nitish Kumar government. Devi had also appeared against the RJD chief in “politically motivated PILs and for the CBI in criminal cases.”  

Since the CBI court was expected to give its verdict on July 15, it was imperative for Lalu Prasad Yadav to delay matters as he was quite certain that the judgement would not be in his favour.

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Congress eyeing Nitish Kumar as a future ally

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With the Lok Sabha elections less than a year away, an adverse verdict would have dealt a big blow to Lalu Prasad Yadav’s political career which has just started looking up after the RJD’s massive victory in the recent Maharajganj bypoll.

His future alliance with the Congress also depends on this case, particularly after his bete noire -- Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar -- snapped ties with the BJP and moved closer to the Congress.

Had the Ranchi court order gone against Lalu Prasad Yadav, it would have left the field open for a tie-up between the Congress and Nitish Kumar’s JDU. However, if the verdict were to go in Lalu’s favour, a future Congress-RJD partnership could well be possible.

The RJD chief is keen on tying up with the Congress as it would ensure the consolidation of minority votes. Lalu has even been speaking about a grand alliance of all secular forces to keep communal forces (read BJP) at bay.

The Congress has, so far, been cool to Lalu’s overtures although the RJD extends outside support to the UPA government at the Centre. While it has not rejected the RJD, the Congress is also eyeing Nitish Kumar as a future ally.  

The Centre has been showering the Bihar government with funds for various schemes while MLAs in the state assembly voted for Nitish Kumar in the recent trust vote. The Congress also refrained from pointing fingers at the Bihar government after the terror attack at Bodh Gaya.

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Image: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at his residence
Photographs: Reuters/Stringer

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JDU President Sharad Yadav not keen on alliance with Congress

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While keeping Nitish Kumar in good humour, the Congress has decided to adopt a wait-and-watch policy for now. It will see how the political situation unfolds in the coming months before it takes a final view.

The Bihar Congress is divided on the issue. One section believes the party leadership should not ditch Lalu Prasad Yadav as he has proved to be a reliable ally. The matter will be discussed threadbare when C P Joshi, AICC general secretary in charge of Bihar, visits Patna on July 29.

Like the Bihar Congress, there are similar divisions in the Janata Dal-United about a possible alliance with the Congress. It is learnt that while Nitish Kumar is keen on it, JDU President Sharad Yadav is resisting any such move.

Sharad Yadav would like the party to contest on its own as he believes the party should maximise its strength and then strike a post-poll alliance. A pre-poll alliance, he believes, would not benefit them in view of the anti-incumbency against the Congress-led UPA government.

In case the JDU-Congress partnership does not fructify, Nitish Kumar is looking favourably at the possibility of forming an Eastern Front with Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

According to Nitish Kumar’s aides, this Front could even offer outside support to the Congress after the Lok Sabha elections to keep out the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.


Image: Sharad Yadav


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