Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, his ally who turned 70 on Sunday, made a show of camaraderie at a time of doubt regarding the alliance as the two opened a bridge approach road as well as a state-built bridge.
The approach road that Nitish and Lalu opened was to the Patna-Sonepur bridge, which was built by the Centre and opened by Narendra Modi. The state government’s Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam had made the approach road, which was opened Sunday. The other bridge linking Ara and Chhapra was made by the state.
Earlier, Lalu’s son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, who is the deputy CM, had said he would “gift” the bridges to his father on his birthday, but the bridges were named after Jay Prakash Narayan and freedom fighter Bir Kuar Singh.
The two veteran leaders of Bihar downplayed the talk about a rift between the allies. Nitish wished Lalu on his birthday and recalled how he had played a key role in making the Patna structure a rail-cum-road bridge.
In an indirect attack on the BJP, Nitish said there was an attempt to create unnecessary controversy regarding the timing of inauguration. “Today is the foundation day of the Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam that constructed the approach road to the bridge. It is also birthday of Lalu Prasad. I wish him on this day,” Nitish said.
About the making of the Digha-Sonepur bridge, Nitish said: “Before I took over as Railway Minister, the foundation stone laying of the bridge was done by my predecessor Ram Vilas Paswan. When I sought the details about the bridge, I learnt it was not sanctioned in the first place. I got the detailed project report prepared and got it approved by the Cabinet.”
Lalu reiterated the durability of the Grand Alliance. “People keep asking me if my equation with Nitish is alright or if he is breaking away from the alliance. I would tell them it is a matter of commitment and no explanation to anyone is needed,” he said. “It is a good thing that Nitish Kumar keeps quiet on such posers. One who keeps silent wins. I have no greed of power… I have turned 70 today and whatever time is left, I will dedicate it to the service of people,” he said.