PATNA: "Ghosts" let loose by Lalu Prasad on the official residence of the Bihar chief minister after RJD lost power in the state, Thursday threatened to cast their spell on the political firmament.
An anecdote shared by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in jest evoked an angry response from a top party colleague of Prasad, who claimed that the JD(U) supremo, an avowed rationalist, had himself once taken recourse to black magic to get even with his formidable arch-rival.
The BJP, Kumars ally, which often finds itself at the receiving end of accusations of promoting obscurantism, latched on the opportunity and berated the jailed leader (Prasad) for his vulnerability to superstition and sorcery.
Reports in a section of the press here said that Kumar had at an informal get together organized on the occasion of the New Year on Wednesday, spoken of the condition in which he found the 1, Anney Marg bungalow after it was vacated by his predecessor Rabri Dev Prasads wife when the RJD was ousted in the assembly polls in 2005.
The reports quoted Kumar as saying that the couple had left mounds of mud dug from the courtyard and placed pudiyas (tiny packets of paper) in various corners of the sprawling bungalow.
Kumar had also reportedly said that later on he was told by Prasad himself, who was then the railway minister in the Manmohan Singh government, in a moment of ebullience characteristic of the RJD supremo We have left our ghosts behind in your house.
RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary, who was earlier with Kumar's JD(U), did not take kindly to the banter and came out with a solemn statement.
"Laluji had once told me that Nitish Kumar had commissioned a ritual at the Kali temple in Darbhanga House, Patna, aimed at harming him. When the priests learnt that the ritual was being conducted to harm Laluji, they informed him and, perhaps, he did something to counter the black magic. I had forgotten this anecdote since I do not believe in these things. Nitish Kumar's remarks suddenly reminded me of that," Tiwary said.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi came out with a couple of tweets, recalling episodes in the RJD supremos political career that hinted at his belief in woo doo.
He flayed Prasad for once appointing a 'tantric' as his party's vice president an apparent reference to UP-based Shankar Charan Tripathi whose appointment as RJDs national spokesman in 2017 had caused much public bemusement.
He was expelled from the party less than a year later after he publicly criticized Rahul Gandhi, who then headed the Congress, an old ally of RJD.
Sushil Modi also recalled Prasad having blamed the 2008 Kosi floods on Kumars consumption of biscuits during a solar eclipse.
He also dismissed Prasads demand, raised a few years ago, of bestowing the title of 'Shankaracharya' on OBCs and Dalits as one that made the socially backward sections an object of ridicule.
Prasad, however, is opposed to the Citizenship Amendment Act which will benefit a large number of Dalits, said Modi about the contentious legislation that seeks to grant citizenship to refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who might have fled on account of religious persecution in these Islamic countries.