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Congress to make one last attempt to prevent Nitish from going to NDA fold

The party expressed disappointment over Nitish Kumar’s resignation and insisted it will continue to strive to resolve the differences in the grand alliance

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 07:18 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar speaks to media submitting his resignation at Raj Bhawan in Patna on July 26.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar speaks to media submitting his resignation at Raj Bhawan in Patna on July 26.(HT Photo)

The Congress will make one last ditch effort to persuade Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar to withdraw his resignation and save Bihar’s grand alliance from collapse.

Congress sources did not rule out party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi speaking to Kumar in their bid to prevent him from going back to the NDA fold.

Congress general secretary in-charge of Bihar CP Joshi is rushing back to the national capital from Jaipur for consultations with the party leadership.

Reacting to the development, the Congress expressed disappointment over Kumar’s resignation and insisted it will continue to strive to resolve the differences in the grand alliance.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the grand alliance was given a mandate by the people of Bihar for five years based on the policies, principles and cumulative leadership that was presented. “We are disappointed by the news of resignation of Nitish Kumar. The Congress president and the vice-president hold Nitish Kumar in great respect and affection,” he said.

The Congress leader said the 2015 Bihar poll outcome was also a mandate against the BJP and Prime Minister Narender Modi, who challenged the honour of Bihar.

“Responsibility lies upon each one of us to respect this mandate. Congress party will do everything within its means that this mandate is honoured,” Surjewala said. “We will try and sort any differences of opinion that may have cropped up by speaking to each other in an amicable and cordial fashion.”

On Saturday, Kumar had met Rahul and reportedly discussed the continuance of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav as deputy chief minister against the backdrop of alleged corruption cases against him.

But Congress sources said Kumar did not inform Rahul about his intentions to resign if Tejashwi is not asked to go.

A Congress leader said Kumar informed Joshi only when he was entering the Raj Bhavan in Patna to submit his resignation. For his part, Joshi requested Kumar to wait and not take a hasty decision. Joshi also told the JD(U) leader that he will get back to him after speaking to Sonia and Rahul. “But Kumar didn’t wait,” the Congress leader said.

But a section in the Congress is not hopeful of Kumar reversing his decision given that the JD(U) leader praised demonetisation and also thanked the Prime Minister for his tweets hailing his move. This section also feels that the uphill task for the Congress leadership will be to pacify the RJD chief to ask his son to give up the ministerial post in order to salvage the grand alliance.

Keen on retaining his clean image, Kumar had taken a tough stand against the allegations of corruption against alliance partner RJD’s chief Lalu Prasad and his family members and made it clear that Tejashwi’s exit from the coalition government was important for the survival of the ‘mahagathbandan’ (grand alliance). For its part, the Congress has all along backed Tejashwi.

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