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Rift wide open: JD-U asks Lalu to declare assets, source of income

Manoj Chaurasia | Patna |

The rift between the warring alliance partners in Bihar government widened further on Friday with the chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD-U asking the RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav to declare his assets and reveal the source of income. The statement is a clear indication that the ruling grand alliance is inching towards a split.

“Ye sampatti kahan se aayi? Source of income kahan hai (how did you acquire these properties and what’s the source of income)?” a JD-U spokesman, Neeraj Kumar, referred to RJD president while talking to a news channel on Friday. He said the RJD president should convince the opposition through credible evidence on assets and source of income.

The RJD, however, objected to such demand by its ally, asking for restraint. RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said the party chief had been routinely filing IT returns and that his income was an open secret. He also urged the JD-U not to play in the hands of the BJP, which is waiting in the wings to see a split in the alliance.
The JD-U’s move reminded the tone of the BJP which for the past two months has been attacking the RJD chief and his family for “acquiring properties through fraudulent means”. It was the BJP that initially revealed how the Lalu family was given three acres of land at a prime location in Patna in lieu of leasing out railway hotels when Lalu was the railway minister.

The trouble started last week after the CBI made Lalu’s younger son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav an accused in the corruption and also raided his residence in Patna. Subsequently, the JD-U asked the deputy CM to resign, citing the chief minister’s “zero tolerance” on corruption. The RJD, however, announced that he will not resign, leading to the confrontation.

The RJD claims the deputy chief minister has been implicated in a false case under a deep-rooted “political conspiracy” and that mere filing of a case doesn’t prove someone is guilty. But the JD-U has been hell-bent on seeking resignation of Tejashwi. As pressures mounts, the RJD has reportedly chalked out a new plan. Under this plan, all its ministers will resign if Tejashwi is forced to do so. The idea is to let the Nitish Kumar government run with its (RJD) outside support.