January 7, 2017 2:22:45 am
RJD chief Lalu Prasad not getting a seat on the dais along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during Thursday’s function to wrap up Prakash Parv celebrations here has drawn flak from Grand Alliance partners RJD and Congress.
Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Modi, Nitish, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and two Sikh representatives were seated on stage. No RJD or Congress leader was on the dais. Lalu was seated on the floor.
The JD(U) cited strict protocol for the limited number of chairs on stage, but the RJD and Congress said they felt slighted. “Two more chairs were needed to accommodate leaders of the RJD and Congress,” said an RJD leader.
RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh objected to Lalu being “made” to sit on the ground with the audience. He told reporters: “JD(U) has been clearly dominating the Grand Alliance government. I cannot see a mahagathbandhan between RJD and JD(U)… People were surprised to see a leader of Lalu Prasad’s stature seated on a mattress, along with his two minister sons… The leader of every party in the alliance should have been on stage.” He added, “If the Bihar CM thinks proper protocol was followed, nothing can be said about it. But people of Bihar saw what was wrong.”
Sources said the RJD was also upset about the fact that the PM singled out Nitish while praising the arrangements for Prakash Parv. “The tourism ministry, the nodal agency for monitoring Prakash Parv arrangements, is under RJD minister Anita Devi,” a source said.
Lalu did not comment on the seating arrangements. Asked about the PM not mentioning him while praising the event, the RJD chief said it was not possible to mention everyone.
Bihar Congress chief Ashok Kumar Choudhary said: “It was the PMO’s job to assess that the PM is visiting a state that has an alliance government. Lalu Prasad sitting on ground did not look good. He had been a Union minister and CM for over seven years.” He chose not to blame Nitish, adding that it was solely up to the PM’s security to take a call on the seating arrangements. Choudhary had skipped Thursday’s function, reportedly to “escape similar embarrassment”.
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