The chatter over Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar “skipping” the press conference of opposition leaders at Bengaluru on Tuesday after they had decided to name their alliance INDIA refuses to die down.
Kumar’s party Janata Dal (U) has rejected suggestions that Kumar threw a fit and left early for Bihar as he felt proceedings had become a “Congress” show and his misgivings over naming the alliance INDIA (Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance) were overlooked, saying the chief minister needed to return to Patna to attend a programme.
But even if this were the case, a JD(U) representative could have shown up at the press conference. And the programme in reference was not far from Patna and did not require Kumar to return post haste. It was evident that something had upset the veteran politician who is seen as a prime mover of Opposition unity.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Modi’s barb that Kumar left Bengaluru early as he was miffed at not being named convenor of the alliance seems to have gone home. JD(U) leaders denied the inference, saying Modi had a habit of making unsubstantiated claims and dismissed the allegation.
Yet, Modi should know a thing or two about Kumar having been deputy chief minister in the BJP-JD(U) alliance. The Bihar leader has a relatively think skin and does not lose time in making his disapproval evident. BJP leaders say they have had to put up with the chief minister’s sulks on several occasions.
The incident and all the attendant speculation it generated did queer the pitch for the launch of the re-branded alliance. A Bihar leader said Kumar should hardly be surprised that the Bengaluru meeting turned out to be a Congress show, pointing out it was only to be expected. It was BJP that gave Kumar due importance when the parties were in alliance.
The Congress shadow on the Bengaluru meeting has not gone down to well with some other constituents like Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress either, it is felt. In the meanwhile Kumar, who’s media interactions have increased in recent months, has mostly kept to himself post Bengaluru.