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Patna Diary

Rivals share anger trait

Chief minister Nitish Kumar and his arch political rival RJD chief Lalu Prasad lost their temper within a span of 24 hours — the former while addressing meetings at Bettiah and Motihari and the latter at his home.

Lalu got into a verbal duel with members of the electronic media at 10 Circular Road. When the journalists staged a walkout, he taunted them: “Why don’t you show more guts at the chief minister’s janata durbar?” Not too long after that, Nitish was furious because a banner welcoming him to Bettiah (put up by former RJD members who have joined the JD-U) at the venue of his meeting was obstructing his view. His angry avatar came to fore again at Motihari when newly appointed schoolteachers started to jeer at him, forcing the chief minister to ask police to remove them from the venue. “Though they are politically opposed to each other, Nitish and Lalu have similar traits,” said a JD(U) leader. “No wonder, Nitish calls Lalu bade bhai (elder brother) and Lalu addresses Nitish as chhote bhai (younger brother).”

Alliance dilemma

Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s statement that he would support that coalition at the Centre, which would grant special status to Bihar, has put the BJP leaders in the state in a dilemma. Animal and fish resources minister Giriraj Singh first said the demand was genuine and the BJP was supporting it. Later, he changed track and said if the JD(U) wanted to snap ties with the BJP, it was welcome to do so. Another well-known Nitish-baiter — MLA Rameshwar Prasad — said the chief minister was not talking in the language of alliance. But a senior BJP leader remarked that there was nothing to be worried about. “Nitish made the same statement immediately after the last Lok Sabha polls. But his calculations went for a toss, as the Congress did not need his support to form a government at the Centre,” he said. “Next time, too, he may end up supporting us again.”

Ethics in politics

Nitish Kumar had said he would not use official facilities, like government guesthouses, during his campaigns for Adhikar Rally. He kept his promise in Bettiah by spending the night at the house of a well-known businessman. “This must be a privilege for the businessman,” said a JD(U) leader. “During the Lalu-Rabri era, a member of the family was kidnapped and they had to pay Rs 50 lakh for his release.” But Nitish’s stay at the businessman’s house had nothing to do with the incident, clarified the leader. “The visit was arranged by an IAS officer, who has a friend in the family.” Nitish’s trip to Bettiah was, however, partly official. He held review meetings besides canvassing for the rally.

Kebabi face-off

The opening ceremony of a famous kebab chain in Patna was the site of a political face-off along with the delicious food. Old friends-turned-bitter rivals — RJD MP Ram Kripal Yadav and food and civil supplies minister Shyam Rajak — came face to face with each other. “The two gave each other cold looks and did not exchange pleasantries,” said a guest, blaming the organisers for inviting the political rivals to the function. “Yadav left without tasting the kebab,” the guest added.