Bihar alliance is intact, says JD(U) after Nitish meets Rahul amid Tejashwi row

Nitish Kumar drove to Rahul Gandhi’s Tughlaq Lane residence and is understood to have discussed graft charges against Bihar deputy chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasdad’s son, Tejashwi Yadav.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2017 09:15 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bihar‬,‪Nitish Kumar‬,‪Indian National Congress‬
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar leaves after meeting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s farewell dinner for outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi on Saturday, met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, raising hopes of salvaging tenuous grand alliance in the state.

The two leaders spoke for about 30 minutes during their one-on-one meeting, and are believed to have discussed the continuance of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav as deputy chief minister against the backdrop of alleged corruption cases against him.

“It was a good meeting. The alliance is intact,” said JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, dismissing speculation that alliance was on the verge of collapse.

The Congress has so far backed Tejashwi, and maintained that he had clarified his position during his meeting with Kumar on Tuesday.

With Nitish keen on retaining his clean image, the JD(U) has 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).

Kumar’s meeting with Rahul is also likely to put an end to the speculation that the Bihar chief minister was again cosying up to BJP, especially after he announced his party’s support to Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA’s presidential candidate and former Bihar governor, and not the opposition nominee, Meira Kumar, who hails from his state.

Tyagi said Nitish attended the PM’s dinner for Mukherjee as he shared a “personal and special relationship” with the outgoing President.

The Bihar CM also called on President-elect Kovind and later met party colleague Sharad Yadav.

He had earlier too sought to allay such apprehensions in the opposition camp by speaking to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul over phone. The Congress chief had also spoken to Prasad in a bid to prevent the collapse of the grand alliance in Bihar.

Congress leaders were of the view that the issues over which Kumar snapped his 17-year-old ties with the BJP remain unchanged. Kumar walked out of the NDA in 2013 after the alliance named Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

A Congress leader said despite repeated denials, the Bihar CM wanted to be immediately declared the opposition’s PM candidate for 2019 and the “frustration over the delay” was reflected in his latest moves, including support for Kovind.

On Saturday, Kumar and Rahul also discussed the opposition strategy for the August 5 vice-presidential elections.

The JD(U) chief is also expected to attend Kovind’s oath taking ceremony on Tuesday.

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 18:19 IST