Patna: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday said his 18-month-long tenure as the Bihar deputy chief minister was marked by efforts to reduce corruption and alleged investigative agencies were unleashed on his family to give Chief Minister Nitish Kumar an excuse to commit “treachery”.
The leader of the opposition in the state assembly also claimed that as the minister in-charge of a department that handled “malaidaar” (money-spinning) matters, measures introduced by him to do away with ministerial interference was resented by his Cabinet colleagues belonging to the JD(U), which Kumar heads. The RJD heir apparent made the remarks at a programme, “Tejashwi ki chaupal”, organised at his residence wherein he replied to questions posed by young men and women on a range of topics.
Seated alongside a radio jockey on charpoys, with lanterns, the RJD’s election symbol, kept atop tables and hanging from various corners of the verandah, Yadav treated the gathering to “litthi-chokha”, a Bihari specialty, as he answered queries that came on Twitter in over an-hour-long interaction that was being webcast live. In reply to a question, he said he was not trying to emulate the “happy swagger” of his legendary father, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, who, he termed, a unique mass leader imbued with qualities that are possessed by few people.
“He is paying the price for his principles which he has refused to compromise on at any cost. There is no point in imitating him,” he said. About Nitish Kumar, who has been blaming his exit from the “Mahagathbandhan” on corruption cases against Yadav, the RJD leader said, “He had made up his mind to ditch us, after having won election in alliance with our party”. He alleged that agencies like the CBI, the ED and the Income Tax department were unleashed on his family “only to provide him with an excuse to commit treachery”.
The coalition government comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress disintegrated in July 2017 over corruption charges against Yadav. Kumar after walking out of the coalition had joined hands with the BJP to run a NDA ministry. “I was the deputy chief minister for 18 months. Can he pinpoint a single act of financial wrongdoing on my part? When I introduced a proposal in the Cabinet on the practice of bringing malaidaar files unnecessarily before ministers for clearance, thereby encouraging corruption, it caused discomfort to those in his own party as they have to pay the RCP tax,” Yadav claimed.
He has been alleging that Kumar’s close aide Ram Chandra Prasad Singh got a cut from government departments. “I considered Nitish Kumar as my own uncle. But it is thanks to him that I stand accused of having indulged in corruption at a time I was in my teens and exploring a career in cricket. My father used to say that he was very cunning, now I have experienced it firsthand,” Yadav claimed. He also alleged that ever since Kumar returned to the NDA, there has been a spurt in crime in the state, especially those committed against women, and that Bihar was “witnessing horrific incidents of mob lynching which was previously unheard of here”.
The RJD leader also attacked the chief minister for “failing” to secure, despite an alliance with the BJP, “special category status for the state, or even the special package which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced with much pomp and show ahead of the 2015 assembly polls”.
About his party’s opposition to the quota bill for the economically backward among unreserved social segments, Yadav said, “Our party is not against the upper castes. We have many top leaders like national vice-presidents Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Shivanand Tiwary who belong to the upper castes.” “But we hold that this gimmick by the Modi government will end up benefiting the rich among the upper castes and not the poor. Can those with an annual income of Rs eight lakh be considered poor? And how did they arrive at the 10 per cent figure to determine this new quota without conducting any survey. Why do they not agree to our demand for making the caste census public,” he asked.