Lalu’s absence from dais at ‘Prakash Parv’ triggers row

Patna: Lalu Prasad not getting a seat on the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the ‘Prakash Parv’ here yesterday has left the ‘grand alliance’ government partners–RJD and Congress–livid.

In the RJD’s firing line was Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who came in for fulsome praise from the Prime Minister over prohibition and arrangements made for the 350th birth anniversary celebration of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, Congress targeted Modi for the purported slight.

“It did not look like the arrangements to mark Guru Gobind Singhji Maharaj’s 350th Prakash Parv were made by the alliance government. Rather, it looked more like they were made by one party in power,” Singh told PTI.

“This (Lalu not being accommodated on the dais) has not gone down well with the people. Lalu Prasad was made to sit below (the dais). Everybody praised Nitish Kumar for making the grand arrangements. Was RJD not part of the management for the preparations and arrangements for the Prakash Parv celebrations?” he asked.

Singh, who had in the past objected to Nitish Kumar being anointed the 3-party grand alliance’s chief ministerial face, said, “It was one man who got his photo clicked to take credit for the arrangements.”

While Nitish Kumar, Union Ministers from Bihar Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, besides Governor Ram Nath Kovind shared dais with Modi, Lalu and his two minister sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap were seated in the VIP enclosure.

Congress too disapproved of Lalu’s omission from among those seated on the stage, with its state unit chief and minister Ashok Choudhary alleging “Lalu Prasad was not given a seat on the dais under instructions from PMO and BJP.”

“Everyone knows that the PMO guides the SPG as regards who will share the dais with the Prime Minister at a function.

The question should be raised before the PMO as to why was Lalu Prasad not given a seat on the stage,” he told PTI.

Neither Lalu nor his two sons, however, spoke about it.

The JD(U), however, insisted there was no reason for the two parties to kick up a “political controversy” over an issue which was a “matter of protocol”.

“Lalu Prasad is a respected leader of the grand alliance in Bihar…it is a matter of protocol and there is no ground to kick up a political controversy over it,” JD(U) state chief spokesman Sanjay Singh said.

RJD MLA Bhai Virendra, however, trashed the protocol argument, saying, “What about Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav? He should have been accommodated…Laluji is the national president of the party and hence he should have also been given space on the dais.”

Rare bonhomie was on display between Modi and Kumar at the valedictory function to mark ‘Prakash Parv’, with the Prime Minister lavishing praise on the Bihar Chief Minister for having introduced prohibition in the state. It was seen as a “return compliment” by Modi to Kumar for having supported demonetisation.

Though Modi did not refer to Lalu in his speech, Kumar acknowledged the RJD supremo’s presence during his address.