An invitation by Bihar JD(U) to state BJP leaders for a 'Makar Sankranti' feast tomorrow has caused bad blood in the ruling grand alliance with BPCC president and minister Ashok Choudhary indicating he would give it a miss.
The invitation to the traditional 'chura-dahi' (flattened rice and curd) feast from JD(U) state president to BJP, the first since 2013 when the two parted ways, comes against the backdrop of apparently growing bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Sushil Kumar Modi, former deputy chief minister and top state BJP leader, who skipped a feast thrown by RJD supremo Lalu Prasad today, said he would be attending the one being hosted by Singh, triggering speculation about the two former allies warming up to each other.
Modi also used the natural phenomenon that is associated with Makar Sankranti, which marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn), to hint at a possible change in the political equations in the state.
"During Makar Sankranti, the sun changes direction from south to north. Like change in weather, change in politics could never be ruled out. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?"
The invitation to BJP leaders has not gone down well with the Congress, a partner in the 3-party ruling alliance, with its state chief and minister Ashok Choudhary saying," Had it been some personal occasion like marriage, it could be understood. But inviting BJP to a political feast is something only JD(U) can explain."
Asked if he would attend tomorrow's feast, Choudhary avoided a direct reply and only said he would be travelling to Siwan.
Singh, however, insisted the feast at his residence had nothing to do with politics.
"Since it's an auspicious occasion, I have invited everybody to the 'bhoj' (feast), irrespective of political affiliations. I have invited Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD president Lalu Prasad, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, Congress leaders and also those from CPI and CPI(M)," Singh said.
On inviting Modi, Singh said, "It's a social gathering to promote 'sadbhavna' (harmony) and no political meaning should be read into it it."
"Bihar is witnessing a rare display of unity among all parties over passing of new Excise Law, 2016, and all parties have decided to participate in human chain on coming January 21 to express strong commitment to prohibition. We wish to further strengthen this sadbhavna," Singh told PTI.
Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar had not been seeing each other eye to eye for a long time. Their estrangement had culminated in Kumar prodding JD(U) to walk out of the NDA in June 2013, breaking an alliance of 17 years, after Modi was anointed BJP's chief ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
However, Kumar's support to the Modi government's demonetisation decision was seen as a sign of thaw in the frosty ties between the two leaders. Modi's praise of Kumar for enforcing prohibition in Bihar further accentuated the perception.