BJP requests Lalu Yadav to postpone anti-BJP rally in light of Bihar floods; Rahul Gandhi will not participate

RJD has been mobilising support across Bihar by holding several public meetings.

Published: 23rd August 2017 08:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2017 08:20 PM   |  A+A-

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (File | PTI)

Express News Service

PATNA: Feverish preparations by Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD to organise a mega rally in Patna on August 27 to unite the Opposition parties faced a jolt on Wednesday as BJP appealed to him to postpone it in view of Bihar’s massive floods and Congress indicated that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi would attend.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Bihar a day before the rally for an aerial survey of flood-hit areas was another issue RJD leaders considered as they discussed whether to hold the rally. Lalu Yadav, however, is keen to proceed with the rally as per schedule.

RJD has been mobilising support across Bihar by holding several public meetings that were addressed by Lalu Yadav himself, his two ex-minister sons – Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav – and senior leaders and MLAs of the party. RJD leaders claim nearly 25 lakh people will attend at the “historic rally” at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.

 Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP appealed to Lalu Yadav to postpone the rally. “Instead of extending a helping hand to flood-hit people, Lalu Yadav and his party are busy mobilising people for the rally. I appeal to Lalu to postpone this rally in view of the massive floods, which have left more than 250 dead and affected over one crore people,” said Sushil Kumar Modi.

Appealing to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi not to attend the rally, Sushil Modi asked, “Will it be right on your part to speak at RJD’s rally at Gandhi Maidan without having visited flood-hit areas of Bihar?” Sushil Modi’s comments came on a day when Congress sources said neither Rahul Gandhi nor Congress president Sonia Gandhi was likely to attend the rally.

 “Do not teach me, Sushil. Will postponing the rally lead to the end of floods in Bihar?” retorted Lalu Yadav. “The BJP has been working in all ways to foil our rally. Sushil Modi invited Narendra Modi to visit Bihar, and this visit is aimed at foiling RJD’s rally the next day. Why did not the PM visit Bihar during the floods last year?” asked the RJD chief.

Although Congress had earlier indicated that Rahul Gandhi would address RJD’s rally, the national party on Wednesday decided that only one of its senior leaders, Ghulam Nabi Azad, would read out a statement on his behalf, said sources.

Apart from Rahul Gandhi’s uneasy relations with Lalu Yadav unlike the rapport between Sonia Gandhi and the RJD chief, the yadav family’s new corruption charges are said to be the cause behind Congress’s change of mind.

 “West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav will attend our rally on August 27… I had a word with Mayawati, and she is sending senior BSP leader Satish Mishra to the rally,” said Lalu Yadav on Wednesday.

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and CP Joshi would also attend the rally, he added. On chances of Rahul Gandhi’s attendance, he said, “He could also be there.”

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