PATNA: The absence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s photograph amid many photographs of family members of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav at a government programme near Hajipur on Friday had Yadav’s two minister sons embroiled in accusations of deliberately sidelining Kumar and his party JD(U).
Yadav’s two sons – deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav and his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, who is the health and road transport minister – were the chief guests at a government programme organised to lay the foundation stones for 17 road projects in Mahua, Tej Pratap’s Assembly constituency.
The venue was profusely decorated with many banners with photographs of the RJD chief, his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi, their two minister sons and Misa Bharti, his daughter and Rajya Sabha member. What was distinctly absent in these banners was a photograph of the head of the state’s alliance government – Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The development was widely seen as part of RJD’s alleged strategy to sideline Nitish Kumar and his party JD(U) in Bihar. RJD happens to be the largest constituent in the three parties in Bihar’s grand alliance government as it has more MLAs (80) than JD(U) (71) and Congress (27). In recent weeks, several RJD leaders have voiced their desire to anoint Tejaswi Yadav as the chief minister.
“It was a government-sponsored programme and there were photographs of the deputy chief minister. That is alright. There is no problem if there was no photograph of the chief minister,” said JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Sanjay Singh in what was seen as an effort not to escalate the incessant conflict between JD(U) and RJD. “The grand alliance is intact and strong as a cemented floor,” added Singh.
Tejaswi Yadav, who showered praises on his brother and vice versa at the public programme, rubbished charges of turning the programme into a “Yadav family affair”. When journalists asked him of it, he said: “There is no problem in the grand alliance. All is well, and it is always well”.
BJP, the main Opposition party, however, protested sharply, saying it was “highly objectionable” that a government-sponsored programme did not have the photograph of the chief minister. “This is a shameful affair. This simply shows how RJD and its leader Lalu Prasad Yadav are having a disproportionate stranglehold on the State government,” said senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
The public programme was organised by the road construction department to lay foundation stones for 17 road projects that would be built this fiscal year at the cost of Rs 343 crore.