Who runs the government of Bihar?
When a purported telephone conversation between RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Siwan don Mohammed Shahabuddin surfaced and sparked off a furore last week, the interpretations arrived on mass.
The first and foremost was how Lalu Prasad, being the boss of the single largest party in the Bihar ruling alliance, now has the Nitish government wrapped around his little finger.
When a purported telephone conversation between RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Siwan don Mohammed Shahabuddin (pictured) surfaced and sparked off a furore last week, the interpretations arrived on mass
But spare a thought for the ground realities. Notwithstanding Shahabuddin’s utter dislike for Saurabh Kumar Shah, Nitish Kumar has refused to remove the 2009 batch IPS officer.
Shah has continued as Superintendent of Police in Siwan, a post he took charge of on August 3, 2015. In the leaked audio clip, Shahabuddin, a former four-time Lok Sabha member from Siwan, is heard telling Lalu Prasad that the Siwan police would trigger ‘communal violence’ and asked the RJD boss to get the SP removed.
The conversation was purportedly recorded on April 15, 2016, which is more than a year back, but the no-nonsense SP has stayed put in the district.
Lalu Prasad Yadav (left) and Nitish Kumar (right)
Shahabuddin was on that date lodged in Siwan Jail, serving out terms in several cases. The don has since been shifted to Tihar Jail in Delhi on the orders of the Supreme Court.
Clearly while the BJP has accused Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of acting under pressure from Lalu Prasad, the fact suggests to the contrary.
Shahabuddin may still have Lalu’s ears – and sympathy too – besides being a member of the RJD’s national executive, but his dislike for Siwan’s Superintendent of Police has failed to cut any ice with the CM, who holds the crucial portfolios of Home and General Administration in his government.
If nothing else, it clearly underlines the fact that Nitish Kumar does not buckle under pressure and that the don’s diktats are no longer obeyed by the state government.
Does Lalu Prasad have the Nitish (pictured) government wrapped around his little finger?
Not only the SP, the Nitish government has even left the Block Development Officer untouched.
The don in the leaked tape has been heard telling a supporter that he will cut a block development officer to size for impounding a vehicle owned by an aide of the don.
The only disturbing question perhaps left unaddressed in this episode appears to be the absence of an official action against the RJD chief for talking to a convicted criminal in jail.
Neither Lalu Prasad nor anyone close to Shahabuddin has rejected the leaked tape.
Their studied silence on the issue is being considered their acceptance of the fact that the voices heard on the tape were indeed theirs.
In Patna, former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, who has made a series of allegations of corruption against Lalu and his family over the past few weeks, said a criminal case should be started against the RJD boss.
‘Lalu has maintained constant contact with the jailed criminal. He has been patronising Shahabuddin, which is offence, and Lalu did both. The Nitish Kumar government should register an FIR against him and take strict action,’ Sushil Modi said.
Mohammad Shahabuddin is a criminal turned politician. He was elected four times as a Member of Parliament from Siwan, Bihar, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal party of Lalu Prasad Yadav, and 2-times as MLA, to the Bihar Vidhan Sabha
A senior JD(U) leader, however, has a simple matter-of-fact political explanation to the vexed legal aspect.
‘From challenging Shahabuddin’s bail that sent him back to jail to transferring him to Tihar Jail much to the dislike of the dreaded don, Nitish Kumar has shown enough steel in his governance.
‘But it will be a little too much to expect the government to institute a case against Lalu Prasad for patronising the criminals. It can bring down the grand alliance government,’ he said.
‘You only get the government you deserve,’ another JD(U) leader explained.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses a press conference along with Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav at the CM Secretariat in Patna on Monday
‘Nitish Kumar broke ranks with the BJP in 2013 and contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls alone, but the people of Bihar then backed Narendra Modi, whose government they had not experienced, instead of backing Nitish Kumar, who had delivered good governance in Bihar.
‘Had people of Bihar then chosen Nitish over everyone then, he would not have been forced to stitch an alliance with Lalu.
‘While Nitish will do everything to keep his government clean and upright one has to bear Lalu’s limited say in the government.’ That’s the bottom line.