RJD chief Lalu Prasad is scheduled to be the chief guest at a Congress programme on Saturday to celebrate the birth anniversary of first Bihar chief minister Sri Krishna Singh, making the future political move of the Grand Alliance partners clear after the JD(U) broke away. Sri Krishna Singh, also called Sri Babu, a freedom fighter, had served as the first chief minister of the state from 1946 to 1961. The birth anniversary programme of Sri Babu on Saturday is slated to be a major joint show by the Congress and the RJD. It makes the future plan of Sonia Gandhi’s party in Bihar clear after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) quit the Grand Alliance in July and aligned with the NDA.
“RJD president Lalu Prasad is the chief guest at the birth anniversary function of Sri Krishna Singh at the Samrat Ashok Convention Centre here tomorrow,” interim president of Bihar Congress Kaukab Kadri told PTI on Friday. Replying to a question, he said, “We have a natural tie-up with Laluji, who is a tall leader of the secular forces.” Former Union minister Akhilesh Singh, who has switched over to the Congress from the RJD and is a frontrunner for the post of Bihar Congress chief, is scheduled to be the chairman at tomorrow’s programme.
Singh, who served as a Union minister of state in the UPA-I government, said he had been organising Sri Babu’s birth anniversary programmes every year since 2000, when he was a minister in the Rabri Devi government in Bihar, and added that leaders of other political parties were always invited to these events. RJD state spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari said no programme was scheduled for Sri Babu’s birth anniversary at the party office tomorrow and added that all the party workers would attend the event where Lalu Prasad was scheduled to be the chief guest.
Hoardings of the event with photographs of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad have been put up in the city. L P Sahi (98), veteran freedom fighter and an associate of Sri Babu, Congress general secretary and in-charge of Bihar affairs C P Joshi, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, senior Congress leader Shakil Ahmad Khan are scheduled to attend the event, along with a host of state Congress leaders.
Kadri and Singh said all Congress legislators, including former state party chief Ashok Choudhary, had been invited to take part in tomorrow’s event. Choudhary, however, denied receiving any invitation. “I have neither received any invitation nor did anybody telephone me in this regard,” Choudhary, an MLC, told PTI. His colleague in the state legislative council, Dilip Kumar Chaudhary, too said he had not received any invitation for tomorrow’s event.
The two, along with Tanvir Akhtar and Ramchandra Bharti, of the six Congress MLCs in the state, are moving together and are believed to be inclined towards joining hands with Nitish Kumar. The four MLCs were present at the centenary celebrations of the Patna University on October 14, which were attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On the occasion, Kumar had taken a swipe at Choudhary by wondering whether his presence at the event would cost him his party membership.
The Grand Alliance broke up when Kumar resigned over a graft charge against the then deputy chief minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav and later joined hands with the BJP to form a new NDA government in the state.
After the disintegration of the Grand Alliance, the state Congress, which has 27 MLAs and six MLCs, has become a divided house with one section headed by Choudhary inclined towards Kumar, while another faction led by Kadri and Singh tilted towards Lalu Prasad.