In what is being seen as a sign of growing unease between Bihar’s grand alliance partners RJD and JD (U), the former’s leader in Legislative Council Rabri Devi and its leader in Legislative Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav skipped an all-party meet on Saturday. The meeting had been called to discuss preparations for the centenary celebrations of Champaran Satyagrah, due next year.
RJD was represented by its state president Ramchandra Purve at the meeting, which was being held at the cabinet secretariat. CM Nitish Kumar’s gesture to invite his former deputy and Leader of Opposition in Council Sushil Kumar Modi to sit next to him in the meeting only added to the speculation over the unease between the allies. Usually, deputy CM Tejashwi would sit next to the CM. In fact, Nitish asked his cabinet colleague Anita Devi to move to his right to make space for Modi on his left.
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Speaking to The Sunday Express, Sushil Kumar Modi said not much should be made of the CM’s gesture. “It was very nice of him to ask me to sit next to him.”
When asked about the absence of Rabri and Tejashwi at the meeting, RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said: “It was an important meeting and our party was duly represented by our state president Ramchandra Purve. The focus should be on the value we attach to the meeting and not on who were present”.
However, over the past two months, several instances have indicated a tug-of-war between RJD and JD(U). Last fortnight, deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav dropped the CM’s picture from an advertisement issued by the road construction department.
Both sons of RJD chief Lalu Prasad were absent in Assembly the day it passed the amendment to enforce liquor ban in the state. In another instance, health minister Tej Pratap Yadav got the health department to station an ambulance outside his 10, Circular Road, residence, where Lalu and Rabri live too. As per protocol, the facility is also enjoyed by the CM and Governor.