Patna: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ on Tuesday reached Purnea district where he will address his first big rally in Bihar ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Gandhi’s entourage, which had entered Bihar the day before from Kishanganj district, stayed in adjoining Araria for the night.
In the morning, before departing from Araria, the Congress leader paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary. Those who joined him on the occasion included Swaraj Abhiyan founder Yogendra Yadav.
At the Purnea rally, where Gandhi is likely to be joined by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, the party leaders would seek to pick up the threads for the opposition bloc INDIA which has been tattered with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s exit.
The Congress’ oldest and most important ally in the state, the RJD, is likely to be represented by a representative of its de facto leaders Lalu Prasad, the founding president, and his son Tejashwi Yadav who has twice been deprived of the Deputy Chief Minister’s chair as a result of Nitish Kumar’s somersaults.
According to state Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh, “both Lalu and Tejashwi would have attended the rally, but for the ED summonses which seem to be aimed primarily at thwarting their visit to Purnea”.
Notably, Lalu Prasad, who is in his 70s and suffers from many ailments, was grilled by the Enforcement Directorate at the Patna office for close to nine hours on Monday. Tejashwi Yadav, who like his father is named in the alleged land-for-jobs scam, has appeared for questioning on Tuesday.
Besides, CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, whose party is the third largest constituent of the state’s ‘Mahagathbandhan’, after RJD and Congress, is slated to address the rally at Purnea, the Left party’s state secretary Kunal said.
Gandhi, who was last seen in Bihar last year to attend a meeting of parties opposed to the BJP hosted by Nitish Kumar, has so far refrained from launching into a direct criticism of the JD(U) president for his volte-face two days ago.
However, Gandhi’s close aide and Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had on Monday launched a blistering attack on Kumar, claiming his exit from the opposition bloc INDIA was “good riddance” which was causing many leaders of the opposition coalition to “heave a sigh of relief”.
Kumar, who had joined the Mahagathbandhan in August 2022, accusing the BJP of having tried to engineer a split in the JD(U), made an abrupt return to the NDA on Sunday when he resigned, only to form a new government with the saffron party.