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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Advani, Rajnath and Murli talk to Nitish, get no assurance

PTI  Patna, June 13, 2013
First Published: 11:09 IST(13/6/2013) | Last Updated: 14:01 IST(13/6/2013)

With rumblings in NDA over Narendra Modi's appointment as BJP's election campaign committee chief, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said his party is concerned over the recent developments in the coalition but will take a call on the alliance after discussions in JD(U).

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Kumar said he is in touch with the chief ministers of West Bengal and Odisha but it is too early to say whether a Federal Front is being formed by the regional parties.

He said senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, as well as party president Rajnath Singh, had called him and discussed the issues related to their alliance.

"Advani discussed some issues and said some things. We will discuss them in our meeting. We will take cognisance of these things... We will discuss all issues. Before that it is not proper for me to say anything.

"But we are concerned about the developments which have taken place in the last few days," Kumar told reporters at the airport before flying to Katihar for his two-day public outreach 'Sewa Yatra', a people outreach programme, starting on Thursday.

The Bihar chief minister pointed out that Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand have some common problems regarding central funds and special status and it would help them to unitedly press for their demands.

"Mamata Banerjee had talked to me on the phone and her view is that Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand have some common problems and we should think about them together. I have also said that these problems which are common," Kumar said. "If all of us together understand these problems and form a common front it would be good.... This is at an initial stage and one should not speculate that a political front has been formed," he said.

Kumar, who had indicated earlier that it would be difficult for his party to stay in NDA after the elevation of Modi, said JD(U) was keeping a close watch over the fast-unfolding political development.

"We will talk about everything, including discussions with Advani, Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi, and take an appropriate decision," Kumar said.

JD(U) sources have said that a decision on the tie-up with BJP would be taken after Kumar returns from his 'Sewa Yatra' on Friday.

They said that party legislators had been told to be present in Patna on June 15 for the 'crucial' deliberations.

Kumar suggested that a "block" can be formed by the eastern region and the problems discussed and dealt with by them along with the Centre.

The JD(U) leader said while West Bengal has a big debt burden, Bihar suffers from a development deficit due to fund crunch and earlier governments. Odisha and Bihar have been demanding special category status.

"Bihar was divided and if we get help from the Centre as per the law then that is not some mercy from the Centre or a political package," Kumar said.

The Bihar chief minister said that he had congratulated his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik for holding a successful rally in Delhi on Wednesday. He said his government has already demanded special category status to Bihar, a demand made by Odisha now.

Asked about the Federal Front, Kumar said, "It cannot be said that it has taken a firm shape".

He, however, maintained that if Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand come together and make a "common cause" on the problems faced by them, they would be a stronger force.

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