Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday scoffed at speculation that he was miffed over the Opposition meeting in Bangalore.
Claims had been made in certain sections of the media after the Opposition meeting on Tuesday that the JDU leader was not happy with the name of the alliance and over not being made convenor of the new axis. Nitish did not take part in the joint news conference after the meeting.
Interacted with journalists while inaugurating the Malmas Mela at Rajgir in Nalanda district on Wednesday, Nitish said: “There were 26 parties, including local and regional parties, at the Bangalore meeting. The talks were very good and we decided to march ahead together. Everything happened unanimously and in the right manner.”
The chief minister laughed when asked whether he was peeved over the name of the alliance and not being made convenor.
“People who are talking about my displeasure over the name of the alliance were not present at the meeting. I have no personal ambition for any position. I am just working to bring all the parties together to work in the interest of the country. Do not think about these things. The result will be excellent,” Nitish said.
He said he could not attend the media conference as he was “yearning to come to Rajgir after the meeting got over in Bangalore".
"It was not necessary to sit there after the work was accomplished. People do not understand this,” Nitish said.
Nalanda is Nitish's native district and Rajgir is believed to be close to his heart. He has overseen several development projects in Rajgir and tries to spend a few days there every year away from the humdrum of Patna.
Attacking the BJP over holding an NDA meeting in Delhi coinciding with the Opposition summit, Nitish said such meetings regularly happened after the alliance was formed in 1999 under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and George Fernandes.
“The NDA meeting (in Delhi) was meaningless. Just see the names of the parties that participated. He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) did not convene any such meeting previously. They called it when our meeting was happening and invited everyone to boost their numbers. The people who I threw out (of the Grand Alliance, such as Jitan Ram Manji of the Hindustani Awam Morcha) participated in it,” Nitish said.
Returning to Patna from Rajgir, Nitish told reporters that a few more parties would join INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“I will not reveal their names because they (the BJP) will do all sorts of things, including raids,” Nitish added.
The JDU also tried to scotch the speculation about a rift between Nitish and other Opposition leaders.
Accusing the BJP of indulging in propaganda and running a misinformation campaign, JDU national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh said: “Why will Nitish Kumar be displeased? He is the architect of the Opposition unity and architects never get angry. The name of the alliance was kept INDIA with everybody’s approval.”
Singh said there was no discussion at the Bangalore meeting on who would be convenor of the alliance. “Further deliberations will be held at the next meeting in Mumbai,” he said.
Singh said the NDA meeting in Delhi was sign that Modi was "jittery".
“I was in the NDA as an MP for around five years. Modi never called a meeting of the alliance. No meeting ever happened. He convened a meeting now out of worry, frustration and helplessness,” Singh said.
“Among the parties that attended the NDA meeting, 15 were from the Northeast which has just 23 Lok Sabha seats. Let Modi gather such parties. It is an indicator of his nervousness. He will be badly defeated in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” the JDU leader said.
Singh also hit out at the Prime Minister for calling the Opposition leaders corrupt.
“Modi used to speak similarly about leaders in Maharashtra, but they all are now with him. He should talk about this too,” Singh said.