Dussehra event at Gandhi Maidan exposes rift in Bihar NDA

The turnout at the historic Gandhi Maidan which has been the venue for 'Ravana Vadha' since ages was thinner than usual, understandably because of the destruction wrought upon the city by heavy rainfall that has left many localities waterlogged.

Nevertheless, the chief minister flanked by senior political figures like Assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary and state Congress president and MLC Madan Mohan Jha took to the dais and kicked off the ceremony by lighting lamps.

After rendition of songs and performance of dances depicting the epic battle in which the ten-headed monster was slain by Ram and his army, the cutouts laden with firecrackers burst into flames amidst chants in praise of the king of Ayodhya who took on the mighty emperor of Lanka to secure the release of his abducted wife Sita.

All eyes, however, lingered on the empty seats on the dais which were supposed to be occupied by deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also the local MP from Pataliputra, MP Ram Kripal Yadav and state minister and local MLA Nand Kishore Yadav, among others.

The development came close on the heels of a week-long spat between leaders of the BJP in particular its firebrand Union minister and Begusarai MP Giriraj Singh and the Janata Dal (United) which is headed by Kumar over the state government's handling of the inundation of large parts of the Bihar capital after torrential rainfall battered the city late last month.

However, when asked about the BJP leaders' absence at the Dussehra function, the party's state spokesman Nikhil Anand asserted "it would not be proper to view the absence of BJP leaders at the event as a sign of some discord between the NDA allies."

All BJP leaders who could not be seen at the Dussehra function and stayed away from the Durga Puja celebrations because they want to tell the people of Patna that the party is with them in their hour of adversity,

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