Patna: In what could spell trouble for the grand alliance in Bihar elections, former chief minister Lalu Prasad has refused to share the stage with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi at a rally and efforts were on to make him attend it.
Senior Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would, however, attend Rahul's rally in Bihar's West Champaran district on September 19.
"Lalu (Prasad) has said no to Congress vice president Rahul's rally, citing busy schedule," a senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader said.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, however, assured the Congress leaders here that his younger son Tejaswi Yadav, regarded as his heir apparent, would attend the rally on his behalf.
According to sources, Lalu Prasad was reluctant to share dais with Rahul Gandhi as he was unhappy with the Congress leader over the latter's political approach and stand on some issues.
After the RJD chief's refusal to attend Rahul Gandhi's Champaran rally to kick-start the Congress election campaign in Bihar, the Congress is trying to persuade the former chief minister to share the stage with the Gandhi family scion to project before the public the unity of the grand alliance comprising of JD-U, RJD and the Congress.
Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Choudhary personally visited Lalu Prasad here on Sunday and invited him to share the dais with Rahul Gandhi. "I am hopeful that Lalu-ji will attend the rally," Choudhary said.
"Senior Congress leader and incharge of Bihar, CP Joshi, and another senior Congress leader from Haryana, Ajay Yadav, whose son Chiranjeev Rao is married to Lalu Prasad's daughter, will talk to the RJD chief and request him to attend Rahul's rally," a Congress leader said.
Lalu Prasad's relations with Rahul turned bitter after the latter openly objected to the then United Progressive Alliance government's ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers from disqualification in September 2013. Lalu has been convicted in the multi-crore fodder scam case by a CBI court in Ranchi.
The Champaran rally would be the first big show of the grand alliance after the 'Swabhiman rally' in Patna on August 30, which was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar.
The grand alliance, in which RJD and JD-U would contest 100 seats each and the Congress 40 seats, is in direct fight with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in Bihar polls.