Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday confirmed he was in touch with his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and Odisha CM Navin Patnaik to explore the possibility of a 'federal front'.
On Wednesday, JD(U) MP KC Tyagi had met Mamata Bannerjee in Kolkata to discuss the possibilities of a coalition comprising the regional parties of the three eastern states - Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. Banerjee reportedly got in touch with Kumar over phone while Tyagi was in Kolkata.
Kumar also said that he spoke to Patnaik and congratulated him on the success of his swabhiman rally in New Delhi. Talks over the 'federal front' are believed to have cropped up during the conversation.
The three states are exploring the possibility of the 'federal front' to find a shared approach to their problems vis-à-vis the Centre, Kumar said. He said a joint front will empower these states to negotiate issues with the Centre more forcefully.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, however, played down the 'federal front' talk, saying it was Bannerjee, not Kumar, who floated the idea.
Patnaik also didn't elaborate much on the move. "Let's see what the future holds," he said.
Meanwhile, Kumar admitted BJP leaders LK Advani, Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi discussed with him the JD(U)-BJP ties, but he remained non-committal on whether or not his party would continue its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP.
"Our decision on the JD(U)-BJP ties will be made public only after considering all aspects of the issue at a party meeting," he told reporters.
The JD(U) on Wednesday asked its legislators to be present in Bihar on Friday and Saturday when Nitish will return from a party rally to take the final call on the ties with the BJP, which came to a breaking point after the elevation of Narendra Modi as the BJP's election campaign head.
However, minutes after Kumar spoke about his talks with the BJP leaders about the fate of JD(U)-BJP alliance, Yadav told reporters in New Delhi, "Talks with the BJP (to salvage the NDA) are on. There's nothing more to say as of now."
He echoed Kumar that the final call on JD(U)-BJP ties would be taken at a soon-to-be convened party meeting.