Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Troubled Nitish buries hatchet with rebel party leader

Manoj Chaurasia in Patna

Amidst the mounting pressure by his rivals to make him an accused in the multi-crore fodder scam, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar offered to call a truce with his political adversary, Mr Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, and is holding meetings with the rebel party leader at intervals. Mr Singh, a powerful leader from the upper caste Bhumihar community was among the four JD-U MPs who were suspended from the party for “anti-party activities” in March last year.  

Mr Singh, who represents Munger in Lok Sabha, was one of the petitioners in the fodder-scam cases which eventually led to the unceremonious exit of former chief minister and RJD chief, Mr Lalu Prasad, who also had to go to jail.  

In the past one month, both the leaders have met twice at the chief minister’s official residence in Patna, fuelling various speculations in the political circles. Last Sunday again, the chief minister had invited the rebel party leader to his official residence during which both of them remained closeted in a room for about three hours.  

Although it is still not known about what transpired between the two leaders then, sources said some “vital” issues were discussed. One of the matters was probably Mr Singh’s suspension from the party which could be withdrawn very soon given the prevailing political compulsions.  

Mr Singh, on his part, showed enough warmth for his rival when he supported Mr Kumar’s yatra to seek special a category status for Bihar to be started later this week.  

While Mr Singh, after staying away from the political limelight and marginalised within his own party ~ that too by his once “langotia yaar-turned-bitter enemy ~ want to restore his lost glory and his hold on his constituency with the talks of mid-term polls in the air, the Bihar chief minister has faced some trouble with his political rivals constantly filing petitions at Ranchi High Court.  

On 7 September, a petition was filed by Mr Mithilesh Kumar Singh, a social worker, at the CBI court in Ranchi to make the Bihar chief minister an accused in the fodder scam. In his petition, the petitioner claimed there was enough evidence pointing towards the involvement of the Bihar chief minister in the scam. He had earlier filed a similar plea in the CBI court which was rejected. Subsequently, he moved Jharkhand High Court which asked him to approach the CBI court.  

Media reports said the CBI court has admitted the petition of Mr Singh, seeking to make the Bihar chief minister and another party MP, Mr Shivanand Tiwari, accused in the fodder scam. The court has fixed the next date of hearing for 25 September.

The petitioner’s counsel, Mr Bhola Nath Jha, has told the Press that the petition sought the inclusion of the Bihar chief minister and Mr Tiwary as accused in fodder scam cases. “The petitioner has submitted that there are sufficient evidences which point at both Mr Kumar, who was then a Janata Dal MLA, and Mr Tiwary having received Rs 1 crore and Rs 60 lakh, respectively from the then regional director of the animal husbandry department and kingpin of the scam SB Sinha”. 

Reports further said the RJD chief, too, is preparing to submit a petition from his side in this regard. All these developments have virtually robbed off the sleep of the Bihar chief minister who now looks to be trying hard to get the support of all those, even his rivals, who were even remotely connected with the fodder scam. The JD-U sources, though, denied Mr Kumar’s bonhomie with the rebel party leader had anything to so with Mr Kumar’s impending problems.

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