The coming electoral battle for the 'hot (political) seat' in Bihar found a mildly acrimonious curtain raiser in an Air India New Delhi-Patna flight shared on Saturday by two estranged 'brothers' - Bade Bhai Lalu Prasad and Chhote Bhai Nitish Kumar.
It was just about the No 1 seat in the Business Class (1A) on Flight IC 415. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, arriving earlier, got the seat but Lalu Prasad, who arrived later, threw a tantrum when he realised he had lost it. "From the No 1 political seat in the State to the prime seat in the aircraft, it is a fight for superiority all the way for both the incumbent Chief Minister and the rival who is now a declared candidate for the post", said a co-passenger on the flight.
The two leaders were coming back to the state capital after attending their engagements in the national capital.
Detailing the incident, another passenger on the flight said: "The incumbent ruler of the state arrived six minutes before the flight's departure and was seated on 1A. The rival claimant to the seat walked in five minutes later and immediately frowned at not being allotted seat 1A. It was as if 1A seat would catapult him to the same position in Bihar politics."
That was not all. Lalu, said sources, complained to flight steward about the seats allotted to him not pushing back properly. "Call the pilot or I'll complain to higher authorities," the leader was heard saying. The out-pouring continued long enough to delay the flight's take off by 30 minutes. All this while, Nitish 'slept'.
"The flight finally landed in Patna at 8 pm instead of 7.25 pm, the normal landing time," an airport official confirmed. Sources said unlike earlier occasions when the two leaders traveled together, there was no exchange of pleasantries between Nitish and Lalu during the flight.
Back in Patna, Prasad told mediapersons that he could not talk to Kumar as he kept on sleeping all along in the flight. "I did not disturb him. I will only sleep after removing this government," he said.