PATNA: Though Janata Dal (United) on Sunday confirmed that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar would attend the September 19 Champaran rally from where Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to kick off his election campaign in Bihar, there is no clarity over RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s presence at the rally.
No leader in either RJD or Congress was on Sunday ready to speak in clear term whether Lalu would be attending the rally or not. “Still, there is no clarity on issue of RJD chief. As soon as we get a confirmation from the authority concerned, we will inform the media,” Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) general secretary and media in-charge Chandan Yadav told TOI.
However, sources in the RJD, say Lalu has received a formal invitation from Congress for the rally but he is still undecided on the issue of sharing dais with Rahul Gandhi. He may send his younger son Tejaswi Yadav with some other senior RJD leaders to represent him.
Some RJD leaders close to Lalu said, the RJD chief has not been on the best of terms with Rahul ever since the latter openly objected to a UPA government’s ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers from disqualification in September 2013. At that time, the opposition had alleged that the said ordinance was brought mainly to help the RJD president who was, by then, convicted in a case of the multi-crore fodder scam by a CBI court at Ranchi.
When asked about Bihar CM’s presence at the upcoming rally, JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi told TOI, “Nitish Kumar has got a formal invitation from the Congress and he will be attending the rally.” He said, JD(U) had so far not decided whether its president Sharad Yadav should attend the rally, but Nitish Kumar would definitely go there.
On being asked about Lalu’s presence at the rally, Tyagi said, the RJD chief too has got a formal invitation from the Congress. “I am hopeful he will attend the rally,” Tyagi told TOI on Sunday, adding that the upcoming Champaran rally would prove that grand secular alliance was intact in Bihar.
State Congress is making all possible efforts to make the proposed rally at Ramnagar sugar mill ground in West Champaran district a “mega show” of the grand alliance after the Swabhiman rally at Patna on August 30 which was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Sharad, Lalu, Nitish and Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Singh Yadav. Then, Samajwadi party was part of the grand alliance.