RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav Tuesday clarified Congress was as an "old ally" and a major political party with nationwide presence, rubbishing claims that he had snubbed his coalition partner by coming out in support of the SP-BSP alliance in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
The RJD heir apparently also remarked that during his Lucknow visit on Monday, "the media there kept prying as to whether I had come to UP holding a brief for the Congress".
"It seems the media in Bihar and UP is clueless about my feelings for the Congress. My support to the SP-BSP alliance has evoked diametrically opposite views in the two states," he told reporters on the sideline of a ''dahi chura'' (curd and flattened rice) feast organised at Sadaqat Ashram, the Bihar Congress headquarters.
The feast, organised to celebrate the festival of Makar Sankranti, was also attended by other leaders of the opposition Grand alliance like RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha and Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP) founder Mukesh Sahni.
Presenting a picture of congeniality, Tejashwi Yadav, Mr Kushwaha and state Congress president Madan Mohan Jha fed each other ''tilkut'' - a sweet dish made of jaggery and sesame - consumption of which is considered auspicious on Sankranti.
The NDA had on Monday wondered whether Tejashwi Yadav's UP trip was part of "strong arm tactics" against the Congress, its ally in the ''Mahagathbandhan''.
The NDA's reaction was based on Tejashwi Yadav's greeting Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav for forging an alliance sans Congress.
The RJD leader had asserted that the SP-BSP alliance was another step in the direction of opposition unity which was envisaged by his father and party head Lalu Prasad". "I chose to go to Lucknow myself and pay courtesy visits to Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav since I am younger to them. I wonder why it has become such a big issue.
"Congress-RJD ties date back to the excellent rapport that my father and Madam Sonia Gandhi shared. Rahul Gandhi and I are also on very good terms. Congress is a major political party with a nationwide presence...an old and valuable ally," he asserted.
Tejashwi Yadav, however, distanced himself from BSP supremo Mayawati's assertion that the Congress was inconsequential in Uttar Pradesh and hence, kept out of the pre-poll alliance.
"I do not know in what context she said that," he said.
Asked about the charge sheet filed against former JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar in a sedition case,
Tejashwi Yadav - who is the leader of the opposition in the state assembly - said, "Whoever speaks against the Narendra Modi government is faced with similar coercion".
"Just look at how CBI, ED and IT department have been unleashed on my entire family. It is not confined to those involved in politics. Even journalists and artists taking a stand against the current dispensation are hounded out," the RJD leader alleged.
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