In what appears to be the beginning of a new chapter in Bihar politics, two former chief ministers — Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, sworn enemies till last month, on Friday publicly admitted that they have buried the hatchet and were open to working with each other to contain the unbridled growth of the BJP”.
The new-found bonhomie comes a day after Lalu helped Nitish’s nominees win the Rajya Sabha by-election. Lalu on Thursday had said that the seed for a tie-up between the RJD and the JD (U) had been sown.
Nitish reciprocated the RJD chief’s gesture. “Decks have been cleared to bring all secular forces, including the RJD, on one platform. I am no more averse to join hands with Lalu ji,” said Nitish, arguing that it was the need of the hour to check the growth of fundamentalist forces that rode to power by misleading people.
“The first sign of the BJP’s falsehood was evident today when it announced a 14 per cent hike in passenger fares, along with an increase in freight charges,” said Lalu, who was railway minister from 2004 to 2009 in UPA-I. “At least, I had never heard about such an enormous hike in one go,” Lalu added.
Incidentally, Lalu’s predecessor as railway minister, Nitish too did not mince words in slamming the fare hike. He castigated the NDA regime for announcing a fare hike ahead of the Railway Budget. “It’s a bad precedence when the fare hike is announced just days before the presentation of the Railway Budget. Those who claimed to be different from others (BJP) should not set a wrong precedent,” Nitish said.