Patna: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad’s move to turn the wedding ceremony of his son Tej Pratap Yadav to weave opposition unity suffered a serious setback with many top political players skipping the event on Saturday. Lalu has been trying hard to bring all the opposition parties on a single platform to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha polls due early next year.
The Lalu family was hopeful of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi gracing the occasion but both failed to turn up. “We are hopeful of Rahul Gandhiji and Priyankaji from Sonia Gandhi family joining the wedding ceremony,” Bhola Yadav, a close aide of the RJD, told the media a day before the wedding.
What apparently had brightened their hope was the way Rahul had gone to meet Lalu recently at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. Their absence from the wedding function, however, indicates the Gandhi family is keeping an arms distance from the family of the RJD chief who has been sentenced to jail in three fodder scam cases, say political commentators. The local Congress leaders, however, attended the marriage.
Likewise, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too chose to stay away from the function although she used her Twitter account to convey her best wishes to Tej Pratap on his marriage. Mamata skipped the event on the ground that she was busy with civic polls.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati also was conspicuous by her absence. “We had expected a lot of leaders at the function but sadly majority of them was engaged,” said a RJD lawmaker. The BJP mocked the absence of the top opposition politicians saying the opposition unity had turned out to be a big hoax.
The highlight of the wedding, though, was the presence of Nitish Kumar who had met the Lalu family some nine months after the break-up of Grand Alliance. The guests attending the garland exchange ceremony were surprised when the RJD chief gave a warm and tight embrace to his bête noire Kumar and also offered the seat beside him.
The other notable faces from the ruling National Democratic Alliance who attended the function included federal minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha, BJP minister from Jharkhand Saryoo Rai, Bihar Governor Satyapal Malik and BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha.