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Nitish Kumar bridges Fernandes rift over coffee

Patna, Dec. 18: In what is being described as a move to discourage dissidents, Nitish Kumar on Sunday invited estranged leader George Fernandes to join him at an inaugural function of a Rs 1,000-crore project in north Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on December 28.

The NDA convener, Fernandes, represents Muzaffarpur in the Lok Sabha. “I met Georgesaheb over coffee and requested him to attend the function, as it is related to the development of his constituency. He has agreed to attend it,” said the chief minister yesterday.

The chief minister added: “I would never comment on what Georgesaheb thinks of me. He is a senior and an elderly leader. I respect him and his views.” Nitish Kumar was talking of Fernandes’s recent comments regarding the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar. He also said that he has no “complaints” against Fernandes.

Fernandes, who was here on Sunday to attend a meeting called by Consciousness Forum was heard saying that “revival of friendship” (with Nitish Kumar) would not be possible at least in this “birth”.

Nitish met the leader, who he replaced by Sharad Yadav as the JD(U) president on the same day. “He might have said anything, but his behaviour was polite and he offered coffee for me which was sweet. We talked for 10 minutes.” Observers believe that developments such as these is “discouraging” for Manoj Kushwaha, Muzaffapur MLA, P.K. Sinha and party members who have been rallying round Fernandes and against the Nitish government.

Moreover, George Fernandes sharing dais with Bihar chief minister a day ahead of the Bikramganj Lok Sabha by-poll is likely to weaken the campaign, being led by suspended JD(U) general-secretary Upendra Kushwaha.

Nitish Kumar is going to attend a two-day national development council (NDC) meeting convened by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh from today. “I would like emphasise on the fact that states should be allowed to make their own plans rather than implement the central government-sponsored ones. Several NDC meetings in the past have concluded point that states should be free to make their development plans,” Nitish said, adding: “The states have been reduced into agencies to implement what the Centre sponsors.” He said he would reiterate his demand for a special status and special package for Bihar.

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