Nitish Attends Modi’s Luncheon, Opposition Jittery

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the lunch hosted by the latter for Mauritius Prime Minister in Delhi on Saturday giving raise to renewed rumours.

New Delhi:  Giving a big jolt to his alliance partners Congress and RJD, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attended the luncheon arranged by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While he skipped the luncheon meeting organised by Congress president Sonia Gandhi for opposition leaders on Friday, he met Prime Minister in the capital the next day itself, giving scope for a lot of speculations and rumours.

The prime minister hosted a lunch for his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth and invited Nitish for it.

Nitish sent the senior leader of the party Sharad Yadav as his representative for Gandhi’s luncheon, and on Saturday chose to attend PM’s lunch personally.

The speculations that started on Friday afternoon about the future of opposition unity and Mahghatbandhan in Bihar are still continuing unabated.

The Friday lunch was attended by leaders belonging to 17 opposition parties. The aim of this meeting was said to be finalising candidate for the upcoming Presidential polls.

A politician with a clean image, Nitish is considered pivotal to opposition unity after Sonia. But, he skipping the lunch hosted by her raised many eyebrows.

Analysts are saying that Nitish is embarrassed with a spate of scandals that are coming out every day against Lalu and family and is keeping quiet as he did not want to directly fall into the hands of BJP, with which he had been keeping a distance for the past seven years.

However, Nitish tried to downplay the whole episode saying that since he already met Sonia Gandhi and has telephonic talks with prominent leaders of other parties,  he had decided to attend PM’s lunch.

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Nitish Declares Support NDA Candidate

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has once again taken an independent decision to stand by Modi in the Presidential election.

New Delhi: A day before the opposition parties under the leadership of the Congress on Thursday, Bihar Chief Minister and leader of the JD(U) Nitish Kumar announced his support to the NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. He has once again taken an independent decision.

See Also: New President Of India Is A Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind

Nitish Kumar is known for his uncanny understanding of the popular mood. He supported the demonetisation initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when even the BJP leaders were expressing misgivings in private. Nitish has his own reasons to move away from the RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav ad hence move closer to the BJP. On the day when the opposition leaders met under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, Nitish chose to have lunch with Modi. He is also aiming at Special Category Status for Bihar. Will get something which Andhra Pradesh has been denied despite a mention being made in the AP Bifurcation Act?

See Also: Presidential Elections: Has Modi’s Plan Worked?

The decision of Nitish Kumar weakens the opposition unity to that extent. The Biju Hanata Dal headed by Baveen Patnaik has already announced its support to the NDA nominee.

See Also: Open Drinking Water Sources To Dalits, Not Rastapathi Bhavan

The Left parties, however, are very keen on putting up a candidate to oppose Kovind who has close connections with RSS. The Congress also has been insisting that the name of Ram Nath Kovind was not mentioned when Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu met Sonia Gandhi. So, Kovind cannot be described as a consensus candidate. The Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar will have to take a stand on Thursday.

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Nitish Kumar Bunks Sonia Luncheon, Plans To Meet Modi

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been keeping the cards close to his chest and bunked the luncheon meeting with Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders and planned to meet PM.
Nitish Kumar Bunks Sonia Luncheon, Plans To Meet Modi

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has bunked the opposition conclave organised by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon.

Nitish Kumar refused to accept the leadership of Narendra Modi in 2014 and he engineered the snapping of ties between the JD-U and the BJP. Nitish went on to have an electoral tie-up with the traditional rival Lalu Prasad Yadav and won the elections later. After running the coalition government for some time, Nitish has started moving closer to Modi and away from Lalu. When all political parties, including Lalu’s RJD, denounced the demonetisation move by Modi, Bihar chief minister had welcomed it. Nitish said demonetisation will curb black money and corruption. He also ruled himself out of the race for the prime minister’s post in 2019 saying that he is not up to the mark.

Troubles have started mounting for Lalu and his children in a big way. Nitish did not object when BJP leaders in Bihar made allegations against Lalu’s family of acquiring lands worth ₹1,000 crore through corrupt means. ” If the BJP has documents it can prove its allegations  and there is no need for a third party to comment,” said Nitish. Raids have been conducted by enforcement authorities on the properties of Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti.

There is a strong reason to believe that Nitish is keen on ending alliance with Lalu and revive the alliance with the BJP. Factors like RJD having more seats than JD-U in Bihar Assembly, Shahbuddin affair, having to accommodate two sons of Lalu, one of them as deputy chief minister, Lalu’s backseat driving must have forced Nitish to rethink about the alliance.

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Will Mahaghatbandhan survive these blows?

Differences between Lalu and Nitish might bring along a renewed coalition in Bihar.

Aruna Neela

Patna: Is the Mahaghatbandhan in Bihar on the verge of collapse? Is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar going to dump RJD chief Lalu Yadav? Is the stage set for BJP, JD(U) alliance in Bihar?

The events unfolding of late is only indicating towards it.  Though Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav came together to keep away BJP, it is widely speculated since the beginning that two parties were not on the same page with one another. The friction was visible from before the Assembly elections during seat sharing. Though both managed to sail along, differences came into the light now and then, sometimes seriously.

The latest audio clip run by Republic TV, the convicted mafia don Shahabuddin was heard asking Lalu to remove Siwan Superintendent of Police Saurabh Kumar Shah. Your SP is useless… remove all of them… they will start a riot”, he said.

This is a great opportunity for JD(U) to dump Lalu, but the party reacted very cautiously, as usual, saying that the government will investigate purported conversation between Lalu and Shahabuddin aired by a media house. The government did not transfer the SP whose name is taken in the audio and it proves that our government never compromised on law and order, said spokesperson of JD(U).

Meanwhile, the RJD chose to defend Shahabuddin, saying that his party will not expel him. However, it was cautious and said that if he spoke from jail that was wrong and nothing should be interpreted from the audio clip.

This is not the first time that there was a controversy involving Shahabuddin. Last year in September the mafia don turned politician, Shahabuddin sparked off a controversy that exposed the frail coalition between JD (U) and RJD.  He lauded his party boss Lalu Yadav and termed Nitish as a Chief Minister of circumstances, which snowballed into a slugfest between the alliance partners.

As usual, Nitish tried to downplay the controversy and claimed that State government is in no way involved with Shahabuddin’s release. Then also RJD chief protected his former MP Shahabuddin saying that “Shahabuddin has said nothing wrong. He has only said Lalu Yadav is leader. Nitish has no problem with his statement.” They buried the hatchet and got along after the incident.

While the RJD cadre feels that the present deputy Chief Minister  Tejaswi Yadav, should be made the Chief Minister, allegations about his involvement in sand mafia, real estate mafia are coming into light. As Lalu is on bail and cannot become the chief minister, he wants his son to become CM on his behalf. Lalu had high hopes on Congress’s performance in the recently held five State Assembly elections, but he was disappointed. If Congress had become stronger, it was speculated that he wanted to dump Nitish and make his son the CM.

The two parties are taking divergent views on every issue recently – be it demonetisation or campaigning in UP, they never had a unanimous decision. While Lalu vehemently criticised demonetisation, Nitish supported it.  Lalu went to campaign in UP, Nitish chose to stay away. The differences were always visible, but they made the alliance work for the only reason- power.

But the serious allegations against alliance partners, again and again, might make Nitish think about continuing the alliance.

The BJP which has been on the winning spree and forming the governments by hook or crook in the States might take the opportunity to break the alliance and enter the coalition with JD(U). It would not be the first time for BJP to share power with JD(U), the experiment was done but ended bitterly. Since it has learnt lessons, it may be given another run.

And Nitish too wants a stronger partner. A friend at the Centre would help him keep up his election promises and getting the needed funds to put the State on the map of progress.

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Dates set for Bihar poll battle

Bihar, where stakes are high for BJP and regional parties, is going to polls in five phases between October 12 and November 5, the much-awaited announcement from the Election Commission of India said on Wednesday. Polling will be held on October 12, 16 and 28 and on November 1 and 5. Results will be out on November 8.

A unique feature of the election is the electronic voting machines will display the photographs of candidates contesting the poll to avoid confusion among voters as many contestants may have similar names. The Bihar Assembly has 243 seats and its term will end on November 29.

Bihar has turned out to be a personal and political battle ground between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, thanks to their ego clashes. Once good friends, they tuned bitter foes when Nitish started challenging Modi over his premiership claim and anointment as PM before the parliamentary elections. Nitish Kumar’s open confrontation with Modi came to a head when he severed his Janata Dal (United)’s 17-year-old relationship with BJP in June 2013. But he bit the dust in last year’s general election when the saffron party routed JD (U).

Buoyed up by the unexpected windfall – BJP got 22 seats while the JD (U) 2 – Modi wants to repeat the feat in the Assembly polls whereas Nitish Kumar, seeking a third term, is fighting his beta noire with his back to the wall. His much talked about alliance with former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) and some other fringe parties may not help him to pull the rabbit out of the hat. To add to Nitish’s woes, Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and National Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar have broken away from anti-NDA alliance. Leftists, though not a force to reckon with, too are going separate ways. Thus a split vote and opposition to Lalu-Nitish combine is expected to give BJP the poll victory on a platter.

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