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Arch-rivals come closer to each other
Nitish, Lalu to share campaign stage today

Patna, Aug. 10: Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar would share political stage in Hajpur and Mohiuddinnagar Assembly constituencies tomorrow almost after two decades, shunning bitter rivalry.

The people of Hajipur in Vaishali would first see them together on the dais campaigning for the grand alliance candidate at 12noon. At 4pm, the duo are scheduled to address a meeting at Mohiuddinnagar in Samastipur.

The state JDU chief, Bashishtha Narayan Singh, and the RJD’s state unit chief, Ram Chandra Purbey, confirmed the combined shows of the bitter foes till recently. Earlier, they were scheduled to address a joint rally for the upcoming bypolls on August 16 in Chhapra. But now, they would be in Chhapra on August 17.

“There will be a second round of joint campaigning on August 17. The duo will address election meetings at Narkatiaganj, Chhapra and Mohania Assembly constituencies that day,” Singh said.

The by-elections in 10 Assembly constituencies would be conducted on August 21. The JDU, RJD and the Congress have formed a grand alliance against the NDA (BJP and the LJP).

According to JDU sources, Nitish had shown reluctance in sharing the stage with Lalu and remained non-committal though the state chiefs of the three parties had started campaigning jointly from Saturday. “It was felt that Nitish should address joint meetings with Lalu to send a strong message to the people. The results of the bypolls are important for all the three parties. If the grand alliance fails to bag majority of the seats, its existence would be in jeopardy,” said a senior JDU leader.

Nitish had formally parted ways with Lalu in 1994 to form the Samata Party, but the relationship between the two had strained much before that. Old-timers recalled that they were last seen together in a political show in 1991 when Nitish was contesting from the Barh parliamentary seat on the joint Janata Dal ticket. Lalu had gone there to campaign for Nitish. The battle between Lalu and Nitish has been bitter for the past two decades. While Nitish held Lalu responsible for the “jungle raj” (lawlessness) in Bihar, Lalu hit back at Nitish calling him a stooge of the RSS.

An RJD leader said: “It will be difficult for both the leaders to disown what they have said about each other. They are likely to stick to criticising the BJP and communal politics tomorrow.”

Former MP Shivanand Tiwari, once close to both Lalu and Nitish, said with a smirk: “The people are waiting anxiously for Lalu and Nitish to address meetings together. They will have to praise each other.”

The BJP has started trying to project the differences between the JDU and the RJD. “Nitish is a double-faced man. He speaks about principles in politics and at the same time, he is ready to oil the lathi (cane) of Lalu Prasad (a lathi rally was organised by Lalu, which Nitish ridiculed),” said BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.


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