Barely an hour before he was declared the chief ministerial face of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance on Monday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would play a “crucial role” in the new scheme of things.
“He will play a crucial role in deciding our policies and political line,” Kumar said in reference to the new ‘secular’ formation which will take on the BJP-led NDA in the Bihar assembly polls due in September-October this year.
Interacting with the media after his scheduled 'Janata Ke Durbar Mein Mukyamantri' programme, Nitish, appeared unaware that he would be chosen as the CM face of the alliance.
However, there was a quiet confidence in his body language, conveying the impression he was aware he had played his cards well by meeting Rahul Gandhi at latter’s residence in Delhi ahead of the alliance talks with RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
By getting Rahul on board, Nitish was seen to have balanced out Lalu’s closeness to Mulayam, whose grand nephew is married to Lalu’s daughter. “We discussed various matters with Rahul Gandhi but nothing that would interest you,” said Nitish.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s announcement in New Delhi on Monday announced Kumar as the alliance’s CM face. Kumar returned to the state capital before the announcement, even as Lalu Prasad’s scheduled meeting on Saturday with Congress president Sonia Gandhi was postponed.
“Three members each from the RJD and JD (U) will meet on Tuesday to discuss seat-distribution,” Kumar said. On being asked how the alliance would overcome the confusion among JD(U) and RJD workers, who had been at loggerheads for over two decades, Kumar said “We have been interacting with district and block level leaders. It will be over by June 17. No confusion will be left among the rank and file of the party”, Nitish said. He, however, qualified his comment saying “I can only talk about my party.”
The chief minister said JD(U) state chief Bashistha Narain Singh was authorised and empowered for the tie-up among the alliance parties for the legislative council poll scheduled for July 7.
On April 15, six Janata Parivar parties, including, JD (U), RJD and SP, announced a merger to take on the NDA; with Mulayam named president of the ‘merged’ entity. But no merger actually took place and JD(U) and RJD had to go in for an alliance to take on the BJP in Bihar assembly poll.