In growing animosity post the break-up of Grand Alliance in Bihar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Tuesday accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of “betrayal” for personal gains and alleged that the “match was fixed” between him and BJP to form a government together.
A combative Prasad hit back, and even made personal comments against Kumar, who in a blistering attack against the RJD chief on Tuesday said he had no option but to walk out of the alliance as he did not want to “compromise with corruption”.
He charged Kumar with “betrayal” and held him responsible for the disintegration of the Grand Alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress for personal gains.
“Tejaswi Yadav was just an excuse ... The match was fixed between him and BJP to form a government together,” Prasad told reporters at the 10, Circular Road official residence of his wife Rabri Devi, an MLC.
Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu’s son and former deputy chief minister, who is now the leader of the opposition, was present.
“Even if Tejaswi had tendered his resignation he (Kumar) would have the JD(U) leader would have gone ahead with his plan to split the alliance.
Accusing Kumar of being an “opportunist” politician, the RJD chief called him “Paltu Ram” (turncoat). “Everybody knows that in your (Nitish’s) political career you took help of so many people and deserted many.”
“Say truthfully isn’t it a fact that you (Kumar) had come to my house with folded hands to join forces for the 2015 Bihar poll and pleaded that now we have grown old so give me (Kumar) one term ... But after he saw Tejashwi Yadav doing good work, he tried to make him a sacrificial goat to have several terms as CM,” he said.
Barring Tejashwi, the rest failed to deliver in the coalition government, Prasad claimed.
Nitish Kumar had resigned on July 26 after Tejashwi Yadav did not come clean on accusations of graft and refused to quit. After dumping the Grand Alliance he formed a coalition government with BJP a few hours later, saying it was “in the interest of Bihar.”
On Kumar’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would face little challenge in the 2019 general elections, Prasad ridiculed him, saying “Keep chanting the name of Narendra Modi ... PM material (Nitish Kumar) has surrendered before him but we will give another face against him in 2019.”
Continuing his tirade against Kumar, the RJD supremo called him a “lost case” for joining hands with BJP again. “Despite carrying their (BJP) baggage or a saffron robe on your shoulder you (Kumar) can be given a farewell by them (BJP) anytime.”
He accused Kumar of “conspiring” with the BJP to get a case instituted against him in connection with the ‘land for hotels’ deal relating to the period when the RJD chief was railway minister under UPA 1.
“Is a raid on the house of the deputy chief minister (Tejashwi) possible without the consent of the CM?”
Prasad accused Kumar of being “dishonest” to the Grand Alliance since its inception. “Giving 40 seats to Congress in the Bihar assembly polls leaving 101 seats each for JD(U) and RJD was his strategy to join hands with the Congress at some point of time after dumping us from the government.”
Prasad also accused the chief minister of “undermining” senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav who, he said, contributed a lot to making Kumar a “big leader”.
The RJD leader said he has offered Yadav to “come out from there (the JD-U) and join hands with secular parties to protect the country from communal forces”.
He, however, clairified that Yadav has not been requested to join the RJD but be part of a country-wide movement against communal forces.
On Kumar’s statement that he was confusing “caste base” with “mass base” to claim he (Prasad) was merely a caste leader, the RJD chief shot back, saying “Tell me who participated in the Kurmi (a caste) sammelan? Have I ever participated in any function of the Yadav caste?”
Prasad alleged that an MLC and a Rajya Sabha MP close to the chief minister had collected “huge” sums of money in his name.
The RJD chief was particularly critical of Kumar for his claim that he had helped him (Prasad) win the election for the post of president of Patna University students union.
“When I became general secretary of Patna University students union in 1970-71, Nitish Kumar was not even visible in student politics. Besides students hailing from OBC, minorities and dalits, a large number of girls of Patna Women’s college and Magadh Mahila college had voted for me,” he said.
Prasad, a product of the 1974 Jayaprakash Narayan-led movement, said, “After JP authorised me to form a committee to continue the movement, leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad (now Union minister) and others had objected and JP kicked them out of his house.”
The RJD chief said he became member of Parliament for the first time in 1977 after he got the ticket to contest under instructions from JP. “But Kumar, who claims he is a machine that manufactures leaders, lost Assembly elections twice in 1977 and 1980 from his home constituency of Harnaut.”
He claimed that it was only after he asked Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav to shift to Ara Lok Sabha seat and made his son an MLC that Kumar could enter Parliament from Barh.
Prasad said he had agreed to Kumar becoming the Grand Alliance’s chief ministerial candidate following a request from the then Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
“I knew he (Kumar) was a treacherous man but Mulayam Singh had asked me to agree. I had then said to keep communal and fascist forces away I am even prepared to consume poison,” he said.