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In camaraderie overdrive, Nitish Kumar heaps praise on Ravi Shankar Prasad

The body language of Kumar and the BJP leaders at a function in Patna on Tuesday dispelled speculations of rift between the allies after Kumar refused to accept JD(U)’s ‘symbolic participation’ in the Union cabinet.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2019 22:11 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar,NDA,JD(U)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ashwani Chaubey after laying the foundation stone for five hundred bed hospital at IGIMS campus in Patna on Tuesday.(A P Dube/HT PHOTO)

In a display of camaraderie and bonhomie on Tuesday, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (U) head Nitish Kumar backed the BJP’s decision to field Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat and said the latter should have become a Lok Sabah MP ten years ago.

“Though he (Prasad) was an MP from the Rajya Sabha, he should have become an MP from the Lok Sabha 10 years back. Chaliye, der aiye par durust aiye (Better late than never),” Kumar said while speaking as the chief guest at the groundbreaking function to add 500 beds at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS).

Shatrughan Sinha, a former BJP rebel, had represented the Patna Sahib seat for the last ten years. Sinha had always claimed to enjoy cordial relations with both Kumar and incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Prasad, but chose to join the Congress after the BJP denied him a ticket before the 2019 parliamentary polls.

The chief minister made the remark while responding to Ravi Shankar Prasad’s offer to the state that he was just a “phone call away” for any help required from the Centre for the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS).

Earlier, assuring full support and help to the institute, Prasad said, “There may be certain protocol to reach out to a Central minister, but you don’t need to follow any protocol to reach me as your MP from Patna Sahib. I will always be available for you at a phone call. If you approach me for help in Delhi, as the need be, I will personally accompany you to Harsh Vardhan (Union minister of health and family welfare) or Ashwini Kumar Choubey ji (minister of state for health and family welfare).”

Kumar not only thanked Prasad for his assurance to extend full cooperation to the state’s premier institute, but in a lighter vein, said: “I don’t think you will ever need to go to Choubey ji (to get any work done).”

Kumar looked all at ease as he shared the dais with five BJP leaders — two Central ministers (Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ashwini Kumar Choubey) and two ministers from state (deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and health minister Mangal Pandey) at the IGIMS.

The BJP leaders had earlier praised Kumar for his vision in taking the state forward.

Prasad, while exhorting IGIMS director Dr NR Biswas that the upcoming building should be good, said: “Nitish Kumar ji is a creative person. His creativity and leadership must reflect in the building as well.”

Health minister Mangal Pandey was also effusive in his praise to Kumar. Earlier on Monday, at the tablet distribution function to auxiliary nursing midwives, he had praised the CM for distributing bicycles to girl students. The decision, he said had helped improve girl education, which in turn reduced the state’s total fertility rate. Many other states had replicated the Bihar model, he added.

The ties between BJP and the JD(U) have been uneasy since discussions for government formation began after the NDA’s resounding victory in the Lok Sabha election.

However, the body language of Kumar and the BJP leaders on Tuesday dispelled speculations of rift between the allies after Kumar refused to accept JD(U)’s ‘symbolic participation’ in the Union cabinet.

Kumar had said that the JD(U) would not join the Modi government as he believed in proportionate representation to allies, and not a symbolic lone berth.

Immediately thereafter, Kumar had on June 2 inducted eight new ministers in his cabinet, all from the JD(U). Allies BJP and LJP were left out of the cabinet expansion.

Downplaying speculations of a rift between the BJP and the JD(U), Kumar had then said the BJP was offered a berth but it was not too keen.

First Published: Jun 11, 2019 22:11 IST