Bihar CM Nitish Kumar courting BJP; SC to decide on shifting Shahabuddin to Tihar
Bihar gangster-turned-politician M Shahabuddin may be shifted to Tihar jail from the state’s Siwan district prison if the Supreme Court decides so on a petition seeking relief in a murder case of a journalist in Chhapra, Bihar.
Even as the apex court issued notices on Monday on a plea by Asha Ranjan, wife of slain journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, Chhapra chief of bureau of Hindustan daily, power corridors in the National Capital were agog with speculations that a “representative” of chief minister Nitish Kumar was hobnobbing with some BJP heavyweights for a “reunion”.
The ‘Maha Gadbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) of Bihar is said to be on the rocks and one of the major issues is Shahabuddin. Ever since he was released from jail in another murder case, the relationship between the state’s ‘remote controller’ and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the major partner in the coalition government, and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been strained. The state government went on an appeal to the Supreme Court against Shahabuddin’s release.
Asha Ranjan’s plea has sought that Sahabuddin be shifted from Siwan district jail to Tihar Jail in Delhi, as he may influence witnesses in the murder case if he continues to be kept in Siwan. In this case, the CBI has been asked to complete the probe within three months. With these two developments, the earlier equation between the BJP and the JD(U) of chief minister Kumar may be restored, sources said pointing to the growing differences between Lalu and Kumar.
The broker to the new emerging alliance is said to a Patna doctor, who is a BJP member. It is said that Lalu is interfering in several issues, including how to handle the issue of Shahabuddin, and Kumar is not getting a free hand as the chief minister.
In the 243-member state legislative assembly, Lalu ’s RJD has 81 MLAs and JDU 70. With the BJP having 53 members, even if Lalu jettisons, Nitish with the BJP support and with the restoration of the former BJP-JD(U) alliance, would survive.
It may be also pertinent to point out that Bihar was the first non-NDA state to ratify the controversial GST bill and JD(U)’s Nitish and Sharad Yadav have been included on the committee to celebrate the centenary of Jan Sangh founder-leader Dr. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. Maybe Shahabuddin is the nemesis for both Lalu and the grand alliance.