Exclusion of Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad from the dignitaries, who shared the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the Prakash Parv in Patna, on Friday drew flak from the RJD and the Congress.
RJD vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh voiced the party's grievance.
The mega arrangements were made by the state government, of which RJD is an ally, to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, on Thursday.
"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," said Singh.
"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 the RJD not part of the management for the preparations and arrangements for the Prakash Parv celebrations?", he asked.
Firing yet another salvo at Kumar, Singh, whose frequent digs at the chief minister have drawn sharp reactions from the Janata Dal-United in the past, said, "It was one man who got his photo clicked to take credit for the arrangements."
Lalu and his two minister sons, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, sat in the VIP enclosure with others during the function.
Kumar, along with two Union ministers -- Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan -- and Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, shared the dais with the prime minister at the concluding function of the 350th Prakash Parv.
The Congress also expressed its displeasure over the denial of seat to Lalu on the dais and blamed the Prime Minister's Office and the BJP for it.
"Lalu Prasad was not given a seat on the dais on instructions from the PMO and the BJP," Bihar Congress chief and state minister Ashok Choudhary alleged.
"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 at the podium," he said.
Nobody from the Congress, which too is an ally in the grand alliance government in Bihar with the JD-U and the RJD, was present at the mega event at the Darbar Hall, a replica of the Golden Temple in Amritsar erected at Gandhi Maidan for the Prakash Parv celebrations.
"We had invitations but we chose not to go," Choudhary,who sat on a dharna on Friday as part of the Congress' agitation against demonetisation, said.
The JD-U said that there was no ground for kicking 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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's praise for Nitish Kumar for launching a movement against liquor and appeal to all to make prohibition a grand success, weeks after he lauded the JD-U chief for supporting the Centre's demonetisation move, have given rise to speculations in Bihar's political circles.
Though Lalu or his minister sons did not say anything on the matter, a section of RJD leaders did not take the party chief's exclusion from the dais too kindly and protested their leader "not getting due respect".
The RJD, with 80 MLAs in the 234-member Bihar assembly, is the biggest partner in the grand alliance government headed by Kumar.
The prime minister, while delivering his speech, did not mention Lalu's name, but Kumar acknowledged the RJD supremo's presence during his address.
RJD MLA Bhai Virendra said whatever happened during the Prakash Parv celebrations should not have occurred.
"It is sad that Lalu Prasad was not accommodated on the dais. We, the leaders and workers, are feeling humiliated that our leader did not get a space on the dais," the MLA from Maner in Patna district said.
Stating that even Congress workers were feeling humiliated, he said, "It is a coalition government of three parties, but someone is trying to project himself."
When pointed out that protocol did not warrant Lalu a seat on the dais, the legislator said, "What about Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi 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."
The apparent bonhomie between the prime minister and the chief minister has triggered speculations of Kumar joining hands with the BJP once again.
Led by Kumar, the JD-U had snapped ties with the BJP in June, 2013 over the NDA's projection of Modi as its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The severing of ties between the two parties came after being together for 17 years in the NDA and during the eight-year rule of the JDU-BJP government in Bihar, headed by Kumar.
Speculations triggered by Thursday's exchange of pleasantries between Modi and Kumar were fanned when senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said nothing was impossible in politics.
With the issue of denial of seat on the dais to RJD chief Lalu Prasad kicking up a controversy, his son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav sought to play down the matter.
"Sitting on the ground at such a function is part of 'parampara' (tradition)," he told reporters when asked for his reaction on his father sitting on the ground at the concluding function of the Prakash Parv.
"Laluji zameeni neta hain aur woh zameen par nahi baithenge to kahan baithenge (Laluji is a leader who is rooted to the ground and where else would he sit other than the ground)," he added.
Tejashwi, who today accompanied Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to a function at Gandhi Maidan as part of the 350th Prakash Parv, also did not take offence to the prime minister showering praise on the chief minister for prohibition and good arrangements for the Prakash Parv, but not mentioning his father's name during his address.
"Is it possible to take everybody's name in the government for such things? The praise is for the entire government," he maintained.
Asked about RJD vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh expressing displeasure over the incident, Tejashwi, who is also the RJD Legislature Party leader in the state assembly, sought to play it down saying, "I do not know who is saying what."