Patna: Notwithstanding the rumblings over seat-sharing, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and BJP chief Amit Shah were a picture of poise at a meeting over breakfast on Thursday, sending out the message that all was well in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The cameras caught the duo smiling and bonding well during their brief meeting here, during which the leaders are understood to have discussed the prevailing political situation in view of the Lok Sabha polls due next year.
This is Shah’s first visit to the state since the dramatic political realignment of last year when Kumar, the JD(U) national president, walked out of the Grand Alliance which included the RJD and Congress, and returned to the NDA.
The chief minister met the BJP chief, who is on a day-long tour of the city, at the state guest house where the two had breakfast together, along with a number of senior BJP leaders. They spent close to 45 minutes chatting about various issues which included, understandably, the next Lok Sabha polls which are less than a year away.
Kumar arrived at the guest house within minutes of Shah having reached there from the airport. He was received warmly at the gate by BJP national general secretary in-charge for Bihar, Bhupendra Yadav who escorted Kumar to the room where Shah was putting up.
In the company of Shah, Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and state BJP chief Nityanand Rai, the usually reserved Kumar posed smilingly for photographers eager to capture the politically crucial moments.
As the breakfast meeting ended, Shah besides other party heavyweights –Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Radha Mohan Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav– accompanied the chief minister to the porch to see him off. Though Kumar did not entertain any question from the curious media persons, he was seen coming out smiling from the state guest house to further affirm the bonhomie among the alliance partners.
The BJP president and Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal (United), are scheduled to meet again over dinner hosted at the chief minister’s residence.
The display of bonhomie between the tall leaders is in stark contrast to cancellation of a dinner by Kumar for BJP leaders in 2010, an event that ultimately precipitated into the JD(U) walking out of the coalition in July 2013, ending 17 years of association.
Kumar had cancelled the dinner that year after a photograph of him holding hands with then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi appeared in a number of local newspapers.
Although Shah is scheduled to attend a number of meetings with leaders of various ranks belonging to his party during the day, his bonding with Kumar has been a topic of much speculation as the issue of seat-sharing among NDA constituents in Bihar hots up.
Though the BJP-led coalition in the state also includes Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, a seat-sharing arrangement acceptable to the JD(U) has been turning out to be a tall order. Both Paswan and Kushwaha are out of the country and no representative from their parties was seen at the venue.
After snapping over a decade-long ties with the BJP in 2013, Kumar returned to the NDA fold last year. (PTI)