Lalu-Shahabuddin tape: Opposition gets new stick to beat Nitish with

Patna/New Delhi, May 6 An audio tape released on Saturday of an alleged conversation between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and jailed don-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin by a private TV channel has got the political cauldron boiling in Bihar.

While the opposition has trained its guns on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the leaders of the state’s ruling grand alliance — comprising the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), RJD and the Congress — are avoiding making any comments at this stage.

Following the airing of alleged conversation, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad targeted both Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar at a press conference in the national capital and described it as the “worst form of criminal-political nexus” in the country and the “most tragic day for democracy”.

“Shahabuddin represents the worst form of criminal-political nexus in the country. A convicted notorious criminal like Shahabuddin is running the administration and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad is assisting him in that,” the BJP leader said.

A new English news channel, Republic, TV on Saturday morning aired an audio clip of Shahabuddin and the RJD chief’s alleged conversation, wherein the don-turned-politician was heard saying that “your SP (Superintendent of Police) is of no use”.

Lalu Prasad is also heard listening carefully to Shahabuddin’s complaint about police deployment on Ram Navami to prevent a riot and complaining against Siwan Superintendent of Police.

Prasad dared the Bihar Chief Minister to act against his alliance partner. “I want to ask Nitish Kumar on behalf of the BJP — will he institute criminal proceedings against Lalu?” and said it was a clear textbook case of “gross constitutional impropriety”.

“Nitishji, we want to know what you are going to say, as the senior most leader of your alliance has been found speaking to a notorious criminal over phone from jail, which is a crime,” the BJP leader said.

Prasad also targeted opposition parties. “I also want to ask the political parties and leaders of the so-called secular brigade — will you people make a deal with the criminals to fight against BJP?”

Pointing to Communist parties, he asked if they would join hands with “such parties hands of whose members had blood on their hands of several communist leaders”.

“It’s a criminal act by Lalu, as he spoke to a dreaded criminal to pressurise honest officer who was trying to control riot in the city,” Prasad said.

Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi also targeted the ruling grand alliance in Bihar.

“Republic (TV channel)…has exposed how Lalu is taking instructions from dreaded criminal Shahabuddin. Will Nitish act?”

“Shahabuddin is still the member of RJD National Executive. Where is the Q (question) of suspending or expelling Shahabuddin?” Sushil Modi said on twitter.

In yet another tweet, Sushil Modi alleged that Abdul Ghafoor, a minister in the Nitish government, went to Siwan jail to meet Shahabuddin and another minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui met his parents. Asking why the state government was silent over it, he also urged the central government to intervene in the matter.

Former Chief Minister and Hindustani Awami Morcha (HAM) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi said: “The audio clip has made it very clear that the state government is running under the shadow of criminals. The Centre must intervene in the matter.”

Manjhi also demanded the resignation of Nitish Kumar.

Meanwhile, senior JD-U leader and former state minister Shyam Rajak said that he would comment on the audio tape content only after verifying its genuineness. “It won’t be prudent for me to make any comment now.”

Shahabuddin is also a former RJD MP from Siwan, his hometown, and former legislator from Siwan assembly constituency.

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