As a sort of alibi, Lalu’s office says he is hosting his own iftaar dinner in Patna on Monday and will be busy before that with leading a protest in the state capital.
Iftaar dinners are held during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan; they mark the breaking of the day’s fast.
Mrs Gandhi’s dinner guests will include Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has partnered with her party and Lalu, his old rival as he seeks re-election for a third consecutive run. Lalu openly opposed the alliance’s decision to pick Mr Kumar as its presumptive Chief Minister, then capitulated in recognition that his own party, the Rashtriya Janta Dal, has no strong candidate to offer.
Lalu has served as Chief Minister of Bihar; after being forced to quit because of a corruption scam, he installed his wife as his replacement. Their party was defeated by Mr Kumar in 2005. Lalu cannot run for office unless he wins an appeal against his conviction.
Though Mr Kumar and he share a history of hostility, they decided to combine in an attempt to prevent the BJP from leveraging the popularity of the Prime Minister to win the Bihar election in September this year.
Lalu’s party said that he will ensure several law-makers attend Mrs Gandhi’s dinner to keep up political appearances; while he wanted to register his discontent with her, he is allegedly not keen on escalating the issue.