Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launched his campaign today for the coming state elections with a focus on arch-rival Lalu Yadav. Seeking re-election for the third time at a digital rally, he urged voters to compare his 15 years with the previous 15 years of the RJD regime.
The battle may get personal with Nitish Kumar inducting Chandrika Rai, whose daughter Aishwarya Rai is the estranged wife of Lalu Yadav's elder son Tej Pratap Yadav. The Chief Minister even referred to her at his rally.
"See what kind of treatment they gave to Aishwaya Rai, who is the grand-daughter of former Chief Minister Daroga Prasad Rai and daughter of Chandrika Rai, who joined the Janata Dal United last month," the Chief Minister said.
In a hint that he might field her in the coming elections that are due later this year, he said, "We will take it to the public, how they were insulted by the patriarchs of the RJD".
Tej Pratap Yadav and his wife separated last year, barely six months after their marriage.
Initially, Aishwarya Rai had stayed back at his house to salvage the marriage. But later, she had complained to the Patna police, accusing her husband and in-laws of domestic violence, after which a First Information Report was filed. Her mother-in-law Rabri Devi, she claimed, had thrashed her and evicted her from the house when their divorce case was pending in court.
Aishwarya Rai's father Chandrika Rai quit Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, saying he wanted to fight politically.
Chandrika Rai is the son of Daroga Prasad Rai, a Congress veteran who became the chief minister of Bihar in the 1970s. Lalu Yadav's family had said that he was not a great catch for the JDU."JD(U) won't gain anything from Chandrika Rai joining their party," Tej Pratap Yadav had said.
Mr Kumar -- a five-time Chief Minister of Bihar -- is making another bid to retain power amid huge opposition criticism of his handling of a number of issues. The list includes the coronavirus outbreak, the migrant crisis, trouble in the farm sector and an alleged lack of initiative to investigate the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
For months, he has been at odds with NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janashakti Party. The LJP, which was to discuss the possibility of contesting against Mr Kumar in this election while being a part of the NDA, has left the decision to Mr Paswan.
In a first, Mr Kumar also raised the Sushant Rajput issue today. The death of the actor -- considered suicide by the Mumbai police -- became a subject of a huge political tussle between Bihar and Maharashtra till the Supreme Court upheld the case filed in Bihar and transferred the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Chief Minister said he started the investigation and handed the case over the CBI since "the Mumbai Police was not doing anything". He also expressed confidence that the inquiry will do justice to the memory of the actor, who was from Bihar.