- Despite invite from his deputy, Nitish Kumar gave the event a miss
- On record, BJP and JDU leaders came up with different explanations
- Opposition continued to hurl darts at the BJP-JDU coalition in the state
Mr Kumar had a personal invite from his deputy, Sushil Kumar Modi, who had asked the Janata Dal United chief over to state capital Patna's most prominent yoga event of the day. Two departments in the Nitish Kumar government had taken the lead role to organise the event inaugurated by Governor Satya Pal Malik.
But Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Janata Dal United did not budge, and gave the programmes a miss.
Mr Kumar's absence placed him in the company of a handful of chief ministers such as West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee who skipped the yoga events and set tongues wagging in political circles.
His party leaders, in private, suggest it was Mr Kumar's subtle message to BJP not to expect special treatment, not when Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasn't giving him the special financial assistance he had sought. The two partners have also been shadow-boxing for weeks for primacy in ticket distribution for next year's Lok Sabha elections.
On record, BJP and JDU leaders came up with different explanations.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who had met Mr Kumar over dinner the previous evening, said what was important was that Mr Kumar is a yoga enthusiast, "Please do not politicise the issue," he said.
Janata Dal United spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said Mr Kumar did start their day with yoga like every other day. "There is no party stand, as such, with regard to taking part in the celebrations. Hence, it would be wrong to attach any political meaning to personal decisions," he told news agency PTI.
The opposition certainly didn't take that account at its face value and continued to hurl darts at the BJP-JDU coalition in the state. RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said it was part of Mr Kumar's old strategy to appear different from his allies.
The BJP's other two NDA partners from Bihar, Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas Paswan and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party's Upendra Kushwaha, had made it to the yoga event. Mr Kushwaha, who was also said to be upset, had recently stayed away from a grand dinner to celebrate four years of PM Modi's government earlier this month and sent his aides instead to drive home the point that the alliance should recognise his party's role in any election.
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