Bihar polls: Lalu won’t attend Rahul rally in Bihar, deputises son | india | Hindustan Times
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Bihar polls: Lalu won’t attend Rahul rally in Bihar, deputises son

RJD chief Lalu Prasad will not share the stage with Rahul Gandhi at the Congress vice-president’s September 19 rally in West Champaran where he is set to launch his party’s election campaign for the Bihar assembly polls.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2015 15:30 IST
Subhash Pathak
A combination photo of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. (Agencies)
A combination photo of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. (Agencies)

RJD chief Lalu Prasad will not share the stage with Rahul Gandhi at the Congress vice-president’s September 19 rally in West Champaran where he is set to launch his party’s election campaign for the Bihar assembly polls.

Both share a strained relationship since Gandhi vetoed a UPA government ordinance in 2013 to protect convicted lawmakers that would have helped Prasad remain an MP, even if without pay and without voting rights in Parliament till acquitted in the fodder scam case.

The two parties have been together, though, in fighting the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and were now part of a grand alliance headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) in the October-November state polls.

The RJD supremo has deputed his younger son, Tejaswi Yadav, to attend Gandhi’s show at Ram Nagar in West Champaran, which would also mark the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.

Champaran was chosen because Mahatma Gandhi launched his satyagraha for indigo farmers in 1917 from there.

There was no word from JD(U) leaders, including chief minister Kumar, about their participation.

Prasad’s absence stocked speculation that he still nursed a grudge against the Amethi MP for trashing the ordinance to protect tainted politicians.

Congress leaders from Bihar downplayed the RJD chief’s absence from the event that presented an ideal opportunity to showcase alliance unity after it suffered a dent when Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party walked out of it because of seat-sharing disagreements.

“Not much should be read into it,” said former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay, who met Prasad on Monday to discuss seat allotment issues.

On Sunday, a Congress delegation met Prasad to formally invite him to rally. He apparently excused himself out of it, saying he would be busy on September 19 overseeing nomination of RJD candidates.

The nomination process for the first phase of polls on October 12 starts from September 16.

The Congress had also asked senior party leader from Haryana, Captain Ajay Yadav, whose son is married to Prasad’s daughter Anushka, to talk to the RJD chief.

Earlier, Bihar unit Congress chief Ashok Chowdhary said Gandhi and Prasad would share the dais to counter rivals’ propaganda of discord in the grand alliance.