- Bihar Chief Minister's dinner becomes political talking point
- Some BJP leaders attend, others boycott the event
- Lalu's sons, who have been skipping events, show up
Mr Kumar's dinner, held on Monday, did not draw his main ally, Lalu Yadav, because he is not a legislator, but his two sons, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap Yadav, were present. They are ministers in the Bihar government, but have been recurrent no-shows at important events presided over by the Chief Minister. Sources close to Lalu, 68, have confirmed that the absenteeism of the young Yadavs is a manifestation of the underlying friction between him and Mr Kumar.
Lalu Yadav's party feels that despite winning the most seats in Bihar, he is not given the importance he deserves at large, public functions. But the over-riding concern is the Chief Minister's cheer-leading of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation move. All opposition parties denounced the reform as one that punished the poor who have no access to banking, but Mr Kumar enthusiastically thumbs-upped it, stating it would, as the PM said, counter black money and corruption.
That was followed by the PM, on a visit to Patna, complimenting Mr Kumar's execution of a controversial alcohol ban. The mutual admiration caused a 10-alarm emergency, with Mr Kumar's allies, the Congress and Lalu Yadav, seeking reassurance, which was quickly provided, that he is not considering a political realignment with the BJP.
The Chief Minister's dinner was held to mark the conclusion of the budget session of the Bihar legislature. In January, he hosted a lunch to celebrate the festival of Makar Sakranti, which was attended by BJP leaders, and drew a boycott from the Congress.