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Patna: The suspense in Bihar’s politics is likely to end only after the presidential election. Party leaders hinted the next 72 hours could be crucial as chief minister Nitish Kumar could take a “harsh line” after voting is over in the presidential election on Monday.

JD(U) insiders believe Mr Kumar cannot afford to compromise with his “clean image” in the context of the corruption charges against RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members, particularly deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, which is believed to have also damaged the “good governance” reputation of the chief minister.

“The USP of Nitish Kumar is his clean image and we believe he will take a final decision on the issue soon,” senior JD(U) leader Shyam Rajak said here on Sunday.

All key political parties in Bihar had called meetings on Sunday and reviewed the current political scenario. However, JD(U) state chief Basisth Narayan Singh denied discussing the Tejashwi Yadav issue and said that “the party only discussed issues related to the presidential election”.

State Congress chief Ashok Chaudhary was also seen holding a series of separate talks with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav. Other senior leaders from within the Grand Secular Alliance have also started coming forward to mediate between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav, but sources told this newspaper “they have not succeeded in their attempts as Nitish Kumar is not ready to compromise and wants Tejashwi Yadav to resign”.

Mr Kumar had said at a meeting last week that he wanted a public clarification by top RJD leaders over the allegations and also indicated that he expected Tejashwi Yadav to resign from his Cabinet post. The rift in the alliance deepened when Mr Lalu Yadav had rejected Mr Kumar’s demand and said: “Tejashwi Yadav will not step down from the post under any circumstances”.

Sources, however, said efforts were still being made to find a middle path to end the ongoing political turmoil in Bihar and save the Grand Secular Alliance government.

Observers said that “the question here is that who among the two will blink first, and in the current scenario it seems that Lalu Yadav will take a final call on the issue to save the alliance in Bihar”.

They said a formula which is likely to be worked out between the two parties is that Lalu Yadav will ask all RJD ministers to resign and give outside support to the JD(U) and the Congress to save the alliance.

On the other hand, the BJP on Sunday also supported Mr Kumar’s stand that deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav must furnish a detailed public explanation of all the corruption charges against him.  He, however, told reporters in Patna: “The BJP doesn’t believe in breaking the alliance government. The parliamentary board is keeping a close watch and will decide on the issue depending on the situation.”