The release of an audio tape 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.
Reacting to the conversation in the tape, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described it as the worst form of "criminal-political nexus" in the country.
"Shahabuddin represents the worst form of criminal-political nexus in the country," Prasad told a press conference in New Delhi.
"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 pointed out expressing his concern.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of the state Sushil Modi tweeted: "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?" he wrote in the next tweet.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."
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 was also heard taking instructions from Shahabuddin over riots. The police force should not have been deployed in Siwan on Ram Navami day, Shahabuddin said.
Shahabuddin is also a former RJD MP from Siwan, his hometown, and former legislator from Siwan assembly constituency.