No thaw in sight as Lalu to skip Rahul’s rally

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
The wall of distrust between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad won’t break anytime soon with the latter deciding to skip Congress’ opening election rally in Bihar on September 19.
RJD leader Manoj Jha today clarified on Lalu’s expected absence, saying: “Please don’t judge the unity of the grand alliance by the presence of leaders on the stage. Someone from the RJD will be there for the September 19 rally, which Congress vice-president will address in Chamaparan. Unity is our commitment. Moreover, as election campaign for Bihar heats up, you will find all our leaders sharing the dais.”
Jha was answering a query from The Tribune about whether Lalu will attend Rahul’s rally, Congress’ maiden in poll-bound Bihar and the party’s formal launch of election campaign.
Lalu has reportedly deputed his son Tejaswi, a political greenhorn, to represent the RJD at the Rahul event. This, despite Rahul reportedly calling up Lalu and inviting him for the “Samrasta Rally”, which seeks to celebrate the memory of Dr BR Ambedkar.
The relationship between Rahul and Lalu has soured in the years since the Gandhi scion dramatically tore off the copy of an ordinance his own government had brought in September 2012.
Had the executive order been approved, politicians (such as Lalu) convicted of serious crimes would have been prevented from being evicted from Parliament. This ordinance would have reversed the Supreme Court orders mandating eviction of MPs convicted for serious offences including corruption.
Lalu has clearly not forgotten the blow Rahul dealt him considering it changed the course of his politics. He could no longer contest elections and prepared to line up alternative leadership within the family.
While Jha tried to play down Lalu’s anticipated absence from Rahul’s event, it clearly mirrors the frozen relationship between the two. Lalu is, however, comfortable with Congress president Sonia Gandhi who recently attended the RJD-JDU joint rally in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
The rest of the grand alliance seems to be faring well as the JD-U and RJD, once Congress rivals, appeared at Congress headquarters in Delhi to corner the BJP, their arch rival.