Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, attended a luncheon hosted by PM Modi in the capital, a day after he skipped a lunch meeting organized by Sonia Gandhi for the opposition leaders. The lunch was hosted by the PM in honor of Mauritian PM, Pravind Jugnauth.
On Friday, Nitish Kumar asked Sharad Yadav to represent JD(U) in the lunch meeting organized by the Gandhis. The luncheon saw 17 opposition leaders in attendance as part of forging an opposition unity for the upcoming Presidential polls.
The Bihar Chief Minister’s absence at the luncheon raised several eyebrows as did his ‘yes’ to the lunch organized by the PM. Nitish Kimar commented,
I have already met Sonia Gandhi over it and has telephonic talks with prominent leaders of other parties.
This move comes as the Congress is trying to gather opposition parties on a common ground to test the ground for a possible alliance to take on the BJP in the 2019 elections when PM Modi will seek a second term.
This move can also mean that Nitish Kumar is dropping subtle hints that the JD(U) is coming close to BJP. Nitish Kumar has earlier appreciated demonetization and said,
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In the beginning people might face some inconvenience but taking everything into account, it would yield positive results. I think the country’s economy will benefit from this decision. That’s why I am welcoming and supporting the decision of withdrawing Rs 1000 and Rs 500.
Earlier this year, Kumar, who had supported demonetization in a sharp deviation from his alliance partners — Congress and RJD — demanded that the Center must tell the people the good about scrapping high value notes. He commented,
We (JD-U) took an in-principle stand and supported the Centre’s demonetisation move and welcomed it as the intention was right…Prime Minister had sought 50 days, and now 77 days have passed. PM should tell the people of the country about the good results of the demonetisation drive. People are waiting. “I think the intention behind demonetisation was right. What is the harm if hidden unaccounted wealth comes back into the system through deposit in banks?
Another clue is Nitish Kumar’s stand on the Shahabuddin case. Mohammed Shahabuddin was convicted for the murder and abduction of two brothers, Girish Raj and Satish Raj, during Nitish Kumar’s previous tenure. Soon after his release, the criminal-turned-politician, Shahabuddin , commented that even though Nitish Kumar was the leader of the JD(U)-RJD coalition government, to him his leader was Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Shahabuddin, upon release, had commented,
Everyone knows whom I have been with all these years, and whom I will remain with. Nitish Kumar paristhitiyon ke neta hai (a leader born out of circumstances).
Another conversation between Shahabuddin and Lalu Prasad Yadav was broadcast by Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV on the day of its launch. The entire fiasco left Lalu Yadav red-faced and raised several questions on his integrity and involvement in criminal cases.