Patna: The Supreme Court order against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav given on Monday may have upset him but it has provided a good deal of relief to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar who had embraced him before the assembly polls held two years ago after living separately for many years.
He was the target of attack for a reunion with a man (Lalu) who had association with a mafia don who had a link with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI.
His nexus with Mohmmad Shahabuddin was established by a tape which showed him talking to the latter on phone. The call was made to him from a jail where he was lodged in connection with a recent crime. The tape had gone viral on social media .
Though Nitish was not directly involved in this case but he has been linked to it because of his new-found love for Lalu and alliance with his party in the coalition government headed by him.
The people who were opposed to this alliance found the tape a good weapon to use against Nitish.
The Court order which was delivered two days later partly shifted attention from the conversation between Lalu and Shahabuddin to more than a decade-old fodder case which involved the RJD leader. Something like this was needed by Nitish to get out of the embarrassing situation created by the tape.
For Lalu the order was a double whammy. Already facing flak for speaking on phone to a mafia don in jail, he received a blow from the Supreme Court which directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to revive all the five cases related to Bihar's fodder scam dropped by a lower court (High Court).
He has been already convicted in one case related to the scam and is out on parole. Because of his conviction he has been debarred from election for six years . So far Lalu has been putting up a brave face s but his supporters are jittery.
There is pressure on Nitish Kumar to disassociate from him and his party which is providing bulk of support to his government. His government may still survive if he re-joins hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party which had allied with him sometime back and formed a coalition government.
Nitish has not said anything on the issue so far but the story might have deeply shaken him. Shahabuddin who has fought and won assembly election on RJD ticket is a known criminal but few knew his ISI connection until the expose by the channel . Itmight have come as a shock to Nitish if he did not have any knowledge of it.
Any action against him, however, may cause a political upheaval as he has his supporters in other than his own party.
In any case , the apex court order must have added to worries of Lalu because he was breathing easy after Jharkhand High Court had dismissed five other cases and sentenced him in one as same charges were made in all other five cases.
The order was challenged by the CBI in the Supreme Court which did not find the dismissal order legally tenable. In addition, he will face trial for criminal conspiracy allegedly hatched by him in case of supply of fodder for animals in different parts of the state.
The Court has set nine months as the time-limit for disposal of these cases. If he is convicted in any of these cases for more than two years he will be debarred from contesting election till 2023 which may be too much for his party men to bear.