The 10, Circular Road residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi, where Prasad had thrown his Sankranti feast, was abuzz with activity.

JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, INLD chief Abhay Chautala, JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi and Uttar Pradesh minister Om Prakash Singh representing Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav exchanged bonhomie over 'Dahi Chura' (flattened rice and curd), the customary food on Sankranti at Lalu's feast. Senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar was, however, missing as he was indisposed and taking rest.

Later, Lalu paid a visit to Kumar and said, "There is no distance between me and Nitish Kumar."

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Former Union minister Prem Chand Gupta and a host of RJD leaders played host at the feast, which saw party workers swarming the venue from across the state.

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was the first VIP to arrive at the venue in the morning. Lalu received him warmly and got him seated with another JD(U) leader and Public Health Engineering Department minister Mahachandra Prasad Singh and former RJD MP from Saran Prabhunath Singh.

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The RJD supremo himself took charge to serve curd and jaggery to Manjhi and other leaders.

Dodging questions on the proposed merger, he told reporters, "Why are you all interested in it? It's Makar Sankranti. Our ancestors celebrated it as New Year. Eat food here and enjoy it," but later on said, "The Janata Dal Parivar parties are going to combine, you can understand it has happened."

Lalu, however, refused to make a formal announcement about it.

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