In a move that set political tongues wagging, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar called up Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday and invited him for his oath-taking ceremony scheduled for November 20.
While he won’t attend the ceremony, Thackeray has deputed two senior Sena leaders, state ministers Subhash Desai and Ramdas Kadam, to attend.
Thackeray said, “Nitish Kumar called me and affectionately invited me for his oath-taking ceremony but I will not be able to attend it. Hence, I’m deputing these two leaders,” he said.
But sources close to Thackeray told HT that the two leaders have also agreed to meet soon.
“While no date has been decided, the two have agreed to meet when convenient — if Uddhavji happens to go to Patna or if Kumar comes to Mumbai,” said a senior Sena leader.
Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Jammu & Kashmir National Conference president and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah agreed to attend the ceremony.
“Kumar telephoned Mamata Banerjee on Monday and invited her to be present at his swearing-in ceremony. She has also agreed to be present on the occasion,” a senior Trinamool leader said.
“Mr Nitish Kumar called up the president of the National Conference personally in the morning and requested his participation in the oath-taking ceremony,” a National Conference spokesperson said on Monday, adding that Dr Abdullah had accepted the invite.
Interestingly, Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is the only BJP ally to have received an invite.
Kumar’s invitation to Thackeray comes in the wake of his attempts to reach out to several non- BJP parties and build a larger coalition of parties to take on the saffron party’s dominance inside and outside the parliament.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has also been invited.