Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar continue iftar bonhomie
Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav attended the iftar hosted by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United on Thursday, lending credence to the growing closeness between the two rival parties and adding fuel to speculations over changing political equations in the state.
JDU minority cell president Salim Parvez had hosted the iftar at the Haj Bhavan in Patna with Nitish as the chief guest on the occasion.
Though RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his former chief minister wife Rabri Devi were also invited, they could not make it to the event. Lalu is at present undergoing treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi for various ailments.
The visit of leader of Opposition in the legislative Assembly, Tejashwi, and his elder brother, Hasanpur MLA Tej Pratap is being seen as a payback to Nitish’s attendance at an iftar party thrown by Tejashwi on April 22 at the residence of his mother and former chief minister Rabri Devi.
“Do not see this programme through the lens of politics,” Tejashwi said while beaming at the media persons who asked whether something would come out of the visit.
Tejashwi was seated next to JDU national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh, while Tej Pratap sat next to former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular (HAMS) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi.
Both the RJD leaders chatted with people around them and later took the snacks along with various leaders hailing from different parties, who broke their Ramadan fast on the occasion.
Later, Nitish walked with Tejashwi to see him off to his vehicle signaling the growing warmth, and exchanged pleasantries with each other. Nitish also waited for some time for Tej Pratap who was left behind in the crowd.
Congress legislature party leader Ajit Sharma and his former party president and MLC Madan Mohan Jha also attended the iftar adding to indications about a shift in state politics. Several senior leaders from ruling allies JDU, BJP and HAMS were present too on the occasion.
A senior JDU leader confided to The Telegraph that though Parvez had sent the invitations, MLC Sanjay Gandhi, a close confidant of Nitish had followed it up with telephone calls, requesting important invitees, including Lalu, Rabri and their sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, to attend the iftar.
Incidentally, Tejashwi or any senior RJD leader had not attended the iftar hosted by Nitish on April 15.
Nitish’s visit to any RJD function had come after a gap of around five years, and led to a thaw in the relations between the two parties. They had been bitter rivals since July 2017 when Nitish walked out of the Grand Alliance to the folds of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and formed a fresh government.
Nitish’s growing closeness to the RJD, increasing differences with an aggressive BJP in the state, and his thanksgiving spree in the constituencies from where he was elected to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha earlier, are being read as something major on his mind.
Various experts are seeing it as his intentions of shifting to politics at the Centre or becoming a presidential or vice-presidential candidate in the coming months.
Some sections are seeing it as his pressure tactic to keep the BJP under control in the state.
The current balance of power in the legislative Assembly ensures that it will be extremely difficult for any alliance to form a government without Nitish and his JDU.