A book release organised by disciples of the 1974 Bihar movement leader Jayaprakash Narayan on Friday appeared to bring out in the open the tension between Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Both were named among high dignitaries slated to attend the function. But neither turned up, apparently avoiding each other amid speculation that the dispute over pre-poll alliance between the RJD and JD(U) continued to fester.
BJP veteran LK Advani and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav were among the other notable guests, who did not attend the function even though the organisers were expecting them.
The function had been organised by JP disciples for the release of a pictorial book on the JP movement by photographer Satya Narayan Dusre. The occasion was Sampoorn Kranti Diwas (Total Revolution Day), observed as anniversary of the 1974 movement.
While chief minister Nitish Kumar attended an official function at the JP statue near Gandhi Maidan, RJD chief Lalu Prasad was in Araria in eastern Bihar, for another engagement.
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav left for Delhi while BJP patriarch LK Advani did not turn up at the function.
The JD(U) president, however, downplayed the differences between the two political parties over the projection of a chief ministerial candidate.
The alliance will be finalised soon and talks will continue on other issues. A strong secular alliance is need of the hour to ensure the defeat of BJP in Bihar polls,he said before leaving for Delhi.
Sources said the absence of top leaders of the RJD and JD(U) was not only to avoid each other but also BJP leader LK Advani and party's senior Bihar leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who attended the function.
They did not want to face each other in view of the ongoing political rivalry between BJP and the Janata Parivar leaders, ahead of the crucial assembly polls, a JP Movement leader said.
The meeting had reflections of the ongoing row on seat-sharing as no one from the JD(U) except Ram Bachan Rai, MLC, was present. The RJD was represented by senior party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqqui and Maner MLA Bhai Birendra.
A number of JP disciples who spoke at the function attacked top JD(U) and RJD leaders, accusing them of becoming power hungry and ignoring the ideals of JP.
Those leaders who were once followers of JP have formed their respective parties and are enjoying the fruits of power. They have forgotten the principles for which the 1974 movement was launched, said senior Sarvodaya leader and JP's close associate Bhavesh Chandra Prasad.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwary was more acerbic in his attack against Nitish Kumar, saying there was no place for in the JD(U) for those having independent views and swore by the democratic values for which JP had fought.
For some time, JP had certain misconceptions about me but he publicly apologised when he came to know the truth. But his disciples do not possess such traits, Tiwary said.
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the biggest contribution of the JP Movement was to re-establish the notion that change could be brought through peaceful means.
He cited slogans like 'Hamla chahe jaisa ho, haath hamara nahin uthega' (Come what may, we will not resort to violence), coined by JP for the historic procession taken out on March 18, 1974.
Modi said the JP movement proved beyond doubt that dictatorship was no solution to the problems and it showed that no fort was invincible.
JP transformed the students'movement into a powerful people's movement to bring about a change in the system. It led to fall of the then powerful Congress government at the Centre in 1977 but it was just the first leg of the journey for total change in the system,he said.
Modi said that JP also worked to end political untouchability and embraced Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he used to criticise before the 1974 movement.
Several other leaders of the 1974 movement, including Buxar MP Ashwini Choubey, Raghupati and Mithilesh Kumar Singh, were present on the occasion. A documentary featuring pictures taken by Satya Narayan Dusre was also shown at the function.