PATNA: Customary invitations to one another for a feast on the occasion of Makar Sankranti caused tremors in both the ruling and Opposition alliances in Bihar on Saturday.
While Congress, the smallest partner in the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance government, was unhappy over Kumar’s JD(U) extending the invitation to BJP leaders for a feast scheduled for Sunday, BJP ally RLSP was anxious about confirmation by BJP leaders that they would attend the feast.
Unlike in the past two years, JD(U) extended the invitation to BJP leaders to attend the traditional feast of dahi (curd) and chuda (beaten rice) at the residence of JD(U) state president and Rajya Sabha member Vashistha Narayan Singh.
Senior BJP leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said he would attend the feast. Several senior BJP leaders are also likely to be at Singh’s residence. Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar will also be there along with all the ministers and the ruling alliance leaders.
But Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, chief of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), sounded unhappy. “I do not understand why JD(U) has invited BJP now while they (BJP) forgot to do so in the past two years. BJP leaders should not forget that this is the same JD(U) that had snatched off the plate from them after inviting them to a grand feast in 2013,” he said.
In fact, the JD(U) chief’s invitation to BJP is being seen in the light of the apparently deepening friendship between the parties, especially after PM Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar exchanged admiration for each other publicly on January 5. BJP and JD(U) were allies in the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar for eight years between 2005 and 2013 when they parted ways.
“The JD(U) state chief should be asked why they did not invite BJP in the last two years. I am unlikely to attend this feast,” said Congress state president and education minister Ashok Chaudhary at the residence of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who had organised a grand feast. While dozens of leaders of the grand alliance parties – JD(U), RJD and Congress – savoured dahi and chuda served by Yadav and his family members, BJP leaders skipped the feast despite the invitation from RJD.
Sushil Kumar Modi said he did not attend the feast at Yadav’s residence as the latter did not personally call him and instead asked his PA to call.
“But I will attend this (JD-U) feast as Singh invited me and other leaders of our party personally. I do not know if they (JD-U) will repeat the 2013 incident of cancelling the feast at the last moment under pressure from Congress, but I have accepted the invitation,” said Modi.
Meanwhile, JD(U) gave Chaudhary a mild chide for his statement. “Ashok Chaudhary should see such invitations as above politics,” said Singh.