Nitish turns up at Raj Bhavan high tea; Tejashwi, most RJD leaders remain absent

Patna: Amid speculations of a rift in the ruling ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday attended the high tea ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan here on the occasion of the Republic Day with his deputy Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD remaining conspicuous by absence.

The seat next to that of Kumar was occupied by senior JD(U) leader and minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary who removed the slip said to be bearing the name of Yadav before occupying the chair.

Leader of the opposition in the assembly, Vijay Kumar Sinha of the BJP, sat next to Choudhary and he was seen exchanging pleasantries with Kumar.

The high tea was organised on the occasion of Republic Day.

Though education minister Alok Kumar Mehta, who is also a national general secretary of the RJD, was among the attendees, Yadav and many other party leaders, including Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, did not turn up.

When Kumar was approached with queries about Yadav’s absence at the function, he gave a curt reply, “Ask those who did not turn up (jo nahin aaye unse puchhiye)”, and drove back to his official residence.

Speculations are rife that Kumar was unhappy with the Mahagathbandhan, which includes the Congress and the RJD with three Left parties supporting the government from outside.

There are also rumours that he might be planning a return to the BJP-led NDA, though leaders of the saffron party have maintained that doors were “closed” for the JD(U) supremo.

JD(U) leaders have also been maintaining that the party was “firmly with” the opposition bloc INDIA.

However, when Sinha was approached with queries by journalists after the function was over, he replied, “I am here in my capacity as the leader of the opposition. I have no knowledge about the truth behind the speculations. The BJP is a party in which decisions are taken collectively, by the leadership. We will all abide by whatever decision is taken”.

Notably, Sinha was also present at a meeting of Bihar BJP leaders held at Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence in Delhi late Thursday night.

He also declined to comment on the rumours of a rift in the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, saying “It is a question you should ask members of the coalition”.