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Nitish keeps his distance

New Delhi, Dec. 27: Nitish Kumar kept his distance from Narendra Modi at the National Development Council meeting today, choosing to not even glance in his direction.

The Gujarat chief minister, who has just won his third Assembly election, reached the venue just before the meeting started at 9.30am. As he proceeded to take his seat, various leaders got up to greet him.

Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh and Virbhadra Singh of Himachal Pradesh were among the chief ministers who shook hands with Modi. The meeting, addressed by the Prime Minister, was attended by most chief ministers.

“It was strange that Nitish and Modi — NDA partners — did not bother to greet each other even at such an important meet. Political differences are one thing but now it seems that the personal relations between the two leaders have also gone bitter,” said an official from Bihar requesting anonymity.

On various occasions, Nitish has made it clear that Modi as prime ministerial candidate is not acceptable to the Janata Dal (United). The BJP and the JD(U) fought separately in the Gujarat elections. Nitish has not congratulated Modi on his election win.

The Bihar deputy chief minister, Sushil Modi of the BJP, who had stayed away from the Gujarat chief minister’s swearing-in yesterday saying he had not received an invitation, remained seated with Nitish at the meeting today.

Asked whether he was taking part in the programme being held to felicitate Narendra Modi in the BJP office, Sushil told The Telegraph: “There is an important Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad function in Patna in the evening today. I will be flying back shortly.”