Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Monday asserted that despite being in opposition he headed the single largest party in the Bihar assembly and was armed with the mandate to put the ruling NDA on the mat over issues like unemployment and “tainted" ministers. Yadav, who is expected to retain the post of leader of the opposition, expressed dissatisfaction over the resignation of JD(U) MLA Mewa Lal Chaudhary from the post of education minister and demanded a statement from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the same.
“The buck stops with the Chief Minister. Hence he must come forward and explain to the people of Bihar under what circumstances did he appoint Mewa Lal Chaudhary despite his tainted background. “He also owes an explanation with regard to handing over the education portfolio to another person involved in a serious corruption case", the 31-year-old told reporters outside the Vidhan Sabha premises on a day when the inaugural session of the newly constituted assembly began.
Chaudhary had stepped down last week, barely a couple of days after being sworn in, as a massive controversy erupted over his being named in a case relating to alleged irregular recruitments at an agriculture university while he was its Vice Chancellor. The additional charge of education has been handed over to Ashok Choudhary, the working president of state unit of JD(U) headed by the Chief Minister.
The RJD has been targeting Choudhary, who had served as a minister in the government headed by Yadavs mother Rabri Devi from the Congress quota, over an old case involving his wife who had been accused of defrauding a bank for seeking loan. Choudhary has, however, dismissed the controversy as “not a big deal" pointing out that after the CBI launched an investigation into the case,they moved the High Court which ruled in their favour.
The CBI challenged the order before the Supreme Court which suspended the High Court judgement hearing the matter ex parte. “We will move the Supreme Court and seek appropriate remedy", Choudhary added.
Yadav was also asked about the counter-attack from the NDA which has sought to put the RJD leader on the dock over a money laundering case. “I was the Deputy CM, handling important ministries, for over a year. Can anybody point to a single irregularity during the period which can be blamed on me? The money laundering case is an instance of political vendetta, seeking to accuse me of having indulged in corruption at a time when I was a nobody", Yadav remarked dismissively.
“Sushil Kumar Modi had carried out a sustained campaign.Could he prove anything"? he asked referring to the former Deputy CM, who has been a strident critic of Yadavs father and RJD founding president Lalu Prasad and the family that controls the party.
Yadav also sought to remind the BJP of the promise of 19 lakh jobs made in the partys election manifesto released here by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam in the heat of assembly polls. “The NDA has one month to show something on the ground.
If it fails, we have the support of more than one crore people who voted for our party in the elections and we will hit the streets", he said. “The NDA may have stealthily achieved power, as is its wont, but it must not forget we are the single largest party and the Chief Minister heads the party which is a distant third in terms of strength in the assembly", Yadav said.
The RJD leader has been alleging that the election results were “manipulated" by pliant officials posted in areas where there was a close fight which explained the fact that NDA got over a dozen seats more than the five-party Grand Alliance though the difference in votes polled by the two formations, across the 243 assembly segments, was just about 12,000 votes. This, the RJD leader has contended, was comparable to “hijacking of mandate" in 2017 when Nitish Kumar abruptly left the RJD-Congress combine and formed a new government with the BJP which he had fought tooth and nail in the assembly polls two years earlier.