NEW DELHI: The bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar captured by shutter-boxes on Saturday at Hyderabad House may HAVE caused heart-burn amongst the votaries of the Opposition unit against the rampaging BJP. That Kumar chose to give a miss to the first meeting of the jamboree of 17 Opposition parties hosted by the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday, but held 30-minute long parleys with the Prime Minister on Saturday forced the chief minister to fiercely deny the political meanings being drawn by the media.
For the record, Kumar said that he attended the lunch hosted by Modi in honour of the visiting Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, because half the population of the island country speak Bhojpuri. Afterwards, the “PM and CM met” to discuss the issue of silting of the river Ganga in Bihar, added Kumar. He reiterated that nothing political should be read into his meeting with the Prime Minister.
But the Bihar chief minister did not defend the beleaguered sons of the RJD chief Lalu Prasad – Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, who are facing allegations of financial irregularity, besides being the target of income tax departmental raids at various locations. Kumar had just to say that “there are allegations and counter allegations, while he speaks only for the facts”.
But the political observers did not miss out from the fact that the Bihar chief minister could well have come to the national capital and attended the luncheon meeting hosted by Gandhi to give the much needed credibility to the Opposition jamboree.
“The ongoing investigations by income tax department against the family members of the RJD chief have put Kumar in a spot, as it casts shadow on his penchant for a clean image. He’s an astute politician, who reads the writing on the wall well, and is well aware that the Congress is still on decline to anchor a united Opposition block to counter the BJP in the 2019 polls. He will open his cards at opportune time,” said a senior JD (U) functionary.
The BJP, however, has been taking extra care to dismiss any suggestions of the “Ghar wapsi (home coming)” of the JD (U) in the NDA fold. The BJP chief Amit Shah dismissed such suggestions on Friday, while the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu did the same on Saturday.
However, the Presidential election in July is likely to shed more light on Kumar’s political directions, with sources saying that the BJP is counting on him to help the NDA anoint its nominee in the Raisina Hills convincingly.