Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is yet to inquire about the health of his former ally Lalu Yadav, who has been admitted to Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences after breathing trouble. Mr Yadav was shifted yesterday from Ranchi, where he was undergoing treatment for multiple complaints.
Seventy-two year-old Mr Yadav, jailed after being found guilty in several fodder scam cases, was receiving treatment at Ranchi's Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences.
Asked about the matter today, the Chief Minister said: "Remember what his caretaker had said about me in 2018 when I was inquiring about his health? I had then decided not to inquire about his health. I only get the details from newspaper."
The "caretaker" reference was to Mr Yadav's son and the leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav. The former deputy of Nitish Kumar had lashed out two years ago when the Chief Minister's phone calls to inquire about his father's health fueled speculation.
The Chief Minister, however, added that he wished Mr Yadav a "speedy recovery".
"There is no guarantee that if we, speaking hypothetically, agree to yet another tie-up, he would not ditch us some time later. The door is now closed," Tejashwi Yadav had said in the backdrop of Nitish Kumar's move to end the alliance and tie up with the BJP just the year before.
Tejashwi Yadav had also derided the Chief Minister's gesture as a belated courtesy. "Surprisingly, Nitish ji got to know about his ill health after four months of hospitalization," he tweeted.
Mr Kumar had then told the media that it was the last time he was inquiring about Lalu Yadav's health.
Asked by reporters if he was keeping tabs on Yadav senior's health, Mr Kumar had given an emphatic refusal. "Not once, I inquired four times about Lalu Yadav's health but not anymore. From now I will keep updates about him through the newspapers," he had said.
Last year, Mr Kumar's delay in inquiring about the health of Ram Vilas Paswan had deeply offended his son Chirag Paswan, the chief of Lok Janashakti Party and an NDA ally. Ram Vilas Paswan, then a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, had died in October after prolonged heart ailment.
Later Chirag Paswan's move to contest independently in the assembly polls had cost Mr Kumar's Janata Dal United a chunk of seats and gave BJP the upper hand in the state alliance.