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In reunion after 23 years, Nitish, Lalu hug, share 'chai'

August 11, 2014 14:24 IST

In reunion after 23 years, Nitish, Lalu hug, share 'chai'

M I Khan in Patna

It was a grand reunion in Bihar. Two heavyweights in caste-ridden Bihar -- Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and senior Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar on Monday formally joined hands. Bitter rivals for over 20 years, they shared the dais and hugged each other at a public meeting ahead of the by-election in 10 assembly constituencies with a common goal -- to defeat the “kamandal politics” of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

After much wait, the two former chief ministers started a joint campaign in Hajipur, the bastion of their friend-turned-foe Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who is a Union minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

In a rare show of political realignment in Bihar to take on the BJP and its allies the LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, Lalu and Nitish raised their hands in a show of strength, clasped each other’s shoulders and even sipped tea. The two have come together after 23 years.

State RJD president Ram Chandra Purve announced on Sunday that Lalu and Nitish will jointly campaign from Monday for the by-election in Hajipur and
Mohiuddinnagar assembly constituencies.

According to political watchers, it was possibly during the 1991 Lok Sabha polls that Lalu, the then chief minister, and Nitish were last seen together during an election campaign. Incidentally, Nitish, who had contested from Barh lost the polls. The two parted ways in 1993 and a year on Nitish floated the Samata Party.

Bihar's ruling JD-U is contesting the by-elections in alliance with the RJD and the Congress.

JD-U and RJD leaders said the alliance was vital for strengthening secular forces and defeating communal parties in the state. The two parties came together after the BJP swept the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.

Nitish had ended his party’s 17-year-old alliance with the BJP in June 2013 over the rise of Modi in the saffron party.

Upbeat after an alliance in Bihar, Lalu had said he would try to bring Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati on one platform.

Image: Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar hug each other as they start a joint campaign in Hajipur