2:24 am - Wednesday August 21, 2019

Nitish Kumar’s party roots for alliance with Congress

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi invited, Nitish Kumar
Congress president Sonia Gandhi invited, Nitish Kumar

Patna –  A top leader of Nitish Kumar’s party today rooted for an alliance with the Congress for next year’s polls and the Bihar Chief Minister did not rule it out, in a major indication that the bonhomie between the two parties over the past few months could crystalize in a partnership.

“I personally feel that there should be an alliance between the Congress and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U),” said Shivanand Tiwari, Rajya Sabha MP and JD-U general secretary.

More significantly, Nitish Kumar did not deny it.

“We will take a call after October…right now we have not considered this issue,” the Chief Minister told reporters in Patna, referring to a party conference in Rajgir. Sources say in the conference, the JD-U will authorize Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav to decide on a tie-up with the Congress.

Pushed to answer why he was no longer a strong votary of a non-Congress government, Nitish Kumar blamed the BJP, saying, “There was a perfect atmosphere for a non-Congress formation but the BJP has spoiled the entire situation.”

Mr Kumar seemed to be referring to the naming of Narendra Modi as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014. Mr Modi’s elevation precipitated an acrimonious break-up between the JD-U and the BJP in June after a 17-year alliance. Since then, the two parties have drifted further apart and missed no chance to attack each other. (Read: Nitish-BJP spar over Modi’s rally)

Despite taking baby steps towards a new alliance, the JD-U has been warming up to the Congress even before its partnership with the BJP flat-lined.

At a trust vote in the Bihar assembly to prove the ruling JD-U’s numbers after the BJP’s exit, Congress legislators had voted in favour of Nitish Kumar.

Recently, the Chief Minister welcomed Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s announcement that he would implement the recommendations of a central report that rated Bihar among India’s most backward states, qualifying it for special financial assistance.

Analysts say a JD-U-Congress alliance would consolidate the Muslim voters, who constitute 16 per cent of Bihar’s electorate. With 40 Lok Sabha seats, Bihar could play a significant role in deciding who rules the Centre.

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