Is anything cooking between Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and the RJD of jailed politician Lalu Prasad? The question triggered hot debates in the political circles after the main Opposition RJD backed by the Congress came out in defence of the chief minister over the deaths of children from suspected encephalitis in Bihar but at the same time came down heavily on health minister Mangal Pandey over the issue and demanded his resignation. Pandey comes from the BJP.

It all began when the Opposition moved the call attention motion over the encephalitis deaths today and demanded immediate debate over the issue which the Bihar assembly Speaker hurriedly accepted. The overall issue took a curious turn when the main opposition RJD and the Congress boycotted the speech of the health minister once he stood from his seat and started giving his statement to the House. Very curiously, they returned to the House when the chief minister began speaking.

Again the Opposition members looked “soft” towards the chief minister during the debate but remained adamant on seeking resignation of the health minister and also created ruckus in the Assembly

The RJD and the Congress went to the extent of alleging that the chief minister was being unnecessarily “targeted” by the media while the real culprits are the BJP ministers, such as Union ministers for health, Bihar health minister and deputy chief minister

“The Union and Bihar health ministers are the real culprits for the deaths of so many poor children from suspected encephalitis in the state. You (Nitish Kumar) too are responsible but you are being more stigamatized than your role,” RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui said in his speech.

Similar remarks came from Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh who said the chief minister was being “targeted” under a well thought-out strategy while the health minister never visited Muzaffarpur, the epicentre of encephalitis attacks, before June 10 when the disease had gone on its peak. Singh alleged the children died for want of proper medicare and medicines.

As such, the health portfolio has been with the BJP right since the NDA came to power in the state in 2005.

The BJP leaders who held the health portfolio since 2005 included Chandra Mohan Rai, Nand Kishore Yadav, Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Mangal Pandey. This was not the first time that the RJD had come to the backing of the chief minister. It has supported the chief minister when he raised the long-pending demand for granting special category status to Bihar during a meeting of the Niti AAyog held last month in New Delhi.

The RJD has also supported Kumar’s stand on triple talaq, Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and Ram temple. Kumar has opposed the triple talaq bill of the NDA government and has also disapproved the removal of Article 30 and implantation of Uniform Civil Code while he wants the Ayodhya dispute to be settled either through dialogue or court’s order.