Nitish stayed away as Cong. didn’t put off Rahul rally

JD(U) says that he was ‘busy’ with seat negotiations.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:33 pm IST

Published - September 26, 2015 01:38 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Bihar  Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

At a time when a controversy is raging over Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s travel plans to the U.S., the Janata Dal (United) has said the reason why Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar gave Mr. Gandhi’s Champaran rally on September 19 a miss was the Congress’s refusal to postpone the event.

JD(U)’s Bihar unit president Bashistha Narayan Singh told The Hindu that Mr. Kumar had initially committed to attending the rally, but quite early on he discovered that it was planned when he was in the middle of heavy negotiations on ticket distribution.

“We requested the State leadership of the Congress for postponement of the rally, till the decision on tickets was taken. They didn’t agree,” he said.

“I can’t say what their internal issues were in not being able to postpone the programme, but we would have preferred a later date,” he said. The rally was finally attended by Rajya Sabha MP K.C. Tyagi on behalf of the JD(U) and RJD leader Lalu Prasad’s son Tejaswi in lieu of the senior leaders.

He added, however, that this would not prevent the alliance partners from sharing a stage later in the campaign.

Rahul will campaign extensively in Bihar

Though Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar skipped Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Champaran rally on September 19, Mr. Gandhi is expected to be back in India on September 28, and will be campaigning in Bihar extensively.

“We want all the grand alliance partners to travel to the 243 constituencies,” JD(U)’s Bihar unit president Bashistha Narayan Singh told The Hindu on Friday.

He also cleared the air on the controversy over Congress president Sonia Gandhi being asked to speak first at the Mahagathbandhan Swabhiman rally in Patna earlier in the month.

“This was a proposal that came from the Congress itself that Ms. Gandhi would speak first and try and stay till the end of the rally,” Mr. Singh said. “We, in fact, wanted her to be the last speaker, looking at her personality and stature as leader of the biggest Opposition party at the Centre,” he added.

The JD(U) leader termed former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi’s remark that RJD president Lalu Prasad was a bigger threat to the BJP than Mr. Nitish Kumar as a ploy to create “divisions” in the Mahagathbandhan ranks.

“The entire strategy of the BJP is to break our unity, as they find that they will be unable to beat us otherwise. These remarks, combined with their desperate attempts to tie up with sectional leaders, are quite demonstrative of the BJP’s nervousness,” he said.

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