Hours before Meira arrives in Patna, CM Nitish leaves for Rajgir to ‘recuperate’

Reports had it that the schedule of opposition Presidential candidate Meira Kumar’s visit to Bihar was neither communicated to the CM’s office nor any contact was made to arrange a meeting between the two.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 19:57 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Meira Kumar,Opposition Prez candidate,Nitish Kumar
Opposition Prez nominee Meira Kumar arrived in Patna on Thursday to muster support for her candidature. (AP Dube/HT photo)

JD (U) president and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar left for an unscheduled sojourn at Rajgir on Thursday, hours before ‘Bihar ki Beti’ and Opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar,set her foot on the soil of her native state, on a three-day visit to solicit support for her candidature.

The chief minister, who was indisposed for the last two days, is learnt to have left for Rajgir to recuperate. Rajgir, a famous tourist spot of Kumar native Nalanda district, about 100 km south-east of the state capital—is known for its hot springs with healing properties.

Although sources in the CM’s residential office did not share any engagement detail or the likely duration of his stay at Rajgir, it was clear that Meira Kumar would miss the chance of meeting Nitish Kumar, or even of inquiring about his health if the CM spends a couple of days in the resort town.

Kumar had sparked off a spat among three Grand Alliance partners - the RJD, JD (U) and Congress, with his decision to extend ‘unilateral support’ to former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA’s Presidential candidate.

He even made the announcement in favour of Kovind ahead of the Opposition meeting to decide on its presidential nominee. While RJD chief Lalu Prasad dubbed this as a “historical blunder”, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad targeted CM, calling him a “man of many principles”.

Reports had it that the schedule of Meira Kumar’s proposed visit to the state was neither communicated to the CM’s office nor any contact was made to formalise a meeting. “I have no information about her visit,” Kumar said on the ‘possibility’ of meeting her, at his weekly Lok Samvad programme on Monday, before he fell ill.

The opposition choice of former deputy PM and senior dalit leader Jagjivan Ram’s daughter, with impeccable credentials both as former Lok Sabha Speaker and a Miranda House alumni who made it to the IFS, as its Presidential candidate, was seen as a tactical ploy to put CM’s support for Kovind over ‘Bihar ki Beti’ on a trial.

But Kumar has remained firm on his stand, which he said was for an “individual”, not the NDA, for his “cordial relations with the government”. At the state executive meeting of the party on Sunday, JD (U) president had said that the party would retain its dignity of being a “partner” in the grand alliance, rather than becoming a “blind follower” of any party.

Kumar’s departure, amidst reports of a ‘thaw’ in GA, thanks to Rahul Gandhi’s intervention, a climb down by Azad and an imminent regrouping of Opposition for vice presidential polls, indicated that the CM had preferred spending time at a place dear to his heart, in his home district, convalescing and mulling his next step.

Party spokesman Neeraj Kumar questioned all those, including Kumar (Meira), harping on ‘Bihar ki Beti’ theme, saying “why this delay in visiting her home state. It should have been first on her list.”

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 19:57 IST