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Makar Sankranti and the intriguing politics of Bihar

Patna: Political chitchat and discussion along with traditional food—dahi (curd), chura (flattened rice) and tilkut (a sweet item made of sesame seed) were part of this year Makar Sankranti. The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presented a united face with all three constituents (JDU, BJP and Lok Janshakti Party) holding separate feasts marking the day, however, there was no dahi-chura feast at RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s 10 Circular Road residence this year.

The feast is an annual ritual when people from across the state visit their leaders’ residences to enjoy the delicacies apart from meeting their leaders. With Lalu behind the bars and Jharkhand High Court, rejecting the bail petition of RJD president in cases of multi-crore fodder scam, Lalu family and his supporters deciding not to host grand celebrations.

This is second year in row that no Dahi chura feast was held at 10 Circular Road residence. Last year too there was no Makar Sankranti festival at RJD camp due to death of Lalu’s elder sister Gangotri Devi.

However, RJD leader and former chief minister Rabri Devi said that party has not decided to celebrate the festival due to death of their leader and party MLC Khurshid Ahmad Mohsin.

A senior RJD leader requesting anonymity said: “The beauty of Lalu feast is that Lalu used to personally supervise everything, serving people and ensuring that nobody went home without eating. There used to have separate stalls for VIPs and supporters with no difference in food for VIPs and common people.” He further said: “Though this year there is no feast, but we are optimistic that next year our leader Tejashwi Prasad would host a grand Makar Sakranti feast as days of Modi government is numbered.”

At most places the feast is held for just one day but at Lalu’s house, Makar Sankranti was always a two-day ritual. On Day One, Lalu used to play host to Hindus and on Day Two to Muslims.

Sources said that the other reason behind RJD not hosting feast is that RJD senior leader and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav not in state capital. Lalu ‘s son Tejashwi Yadav was in Lucknow meeting Samajwadi Party chief and Uttar Pradesh former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav with an attempt to forge an understanding among regional forces in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that are opposed to BJP. On Sunday, Tejashwi met Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati. Tejashwi’s Lucknow visit assume importance as Akhilesh and Mayawati bitter rival recently went for an alliance for Lok Sabha elections.

While there was silence at RJD camp, NDA all three constituents organized separate Makar Sakranti festival.

nitish kumar Lalu prasad makar sankranti ramvilas paswan
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar celebrates Makar Sankranti with LJP Supremo Ram Vilas Paswan, Deputy CM Sushil Modi and Chirag Paswan were also present. Picture by Roshan Kumar

The state JD(U) president, Bashishtha Narayan Singh hosted a grand feast at his Harding Road residence which was attended by chief minister Nitish Kumar, deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, ministers from Nitish’s cabinet and LJP chief and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan.

LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan too hosted Makar Sakranti feast at party office Pir Ali Marg. LJP parliamentary board chairman and Jamui MP, Chirag Paswan talking to media said: “The alliance between SP and BSP is alliance of compulsion and though two leaders have joined hands there will be no tie-up between supporters of both the parties.” Chirag also attacked Akhilesh and Mayawati for dumping Congress from their alliance. Chirag son of Ram Vilas Paswan also expressed confidence that after JDU returning back to NDA camp, the alliance has become stronger with NDA set to win more than 35 seats in Bihar out of total 40 Lok Sabha seats. As per NDA seat sharing alliance, both JDU and BJP are going to contest 17 seats each while six seats have been left out for LJP in state.

BJP MLC Rajnish Kumar also hosted Makar Sakranti feast which was attended by Nitish, Sushil Modi and Ram Vilas Paswan.

Makar Sankranti, a Hindu festival that marks the end of the month with the winter solstice and beginning of longer days, falls on January 14.

It is a day dedicated to Lord Surya and devotees mark this day by taking a holy dip in river Ganges. According to the Hindu calendar, this day is also celebrated as the harvest festival.

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