Nitish, Tejashwi meet sets off Opposition ‘rift’ talk

The Asian Age.  | Nayyar Azad

India, Politics

Rahul urges Bihar CM to include more Congress ministers

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav at a function. (Photo: PTI)

Patna: In a significant development, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar held a closed-door meeting with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav at his official residence on Friday.  

The meeting which was termed as “crucial” by leaders of the grand alliance in Patna took place amid reports of escalating tensions within the INDIA bloc ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The development took place shortly after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called Nitish Kumar on Friday morning. According to sources, Rahul Gandhi discussed future political strategies and urged Nitish Kumar to consider including more Congress ministers in the Bihar cabinet.

Mr. Gandhi also reportedly clarified the Congress party’s stand regarding the projection of Mallikarjun Kharge as the INDIA bloc’s PM face.

The projection of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal during the INDIA bloc gathering on Tuesday left Mr. Kumar upset. The development subsequently led to Nitish Kumar’s criticism by the opposition BJP.

During the recent INDIA bloc meeting, political parties had agreed to finalise seat-sharing arrangements at the state level. Insider reports indicate that Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav engaged in discussions regarding the matter during their meeting on Friday.  

There are reports that Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav also discussed the matter of cabinet expansion.

There are 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. While Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) want to contest on maximum seats, the Congress and left parties have been mounting pressure for "a decent number of seats". Reports suggest that the Congress may raise its demand for 6 to 8 seats.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the NDA (BJP, JD(U) and LJP) won 39 out of 40 seats. The BJP had won 17 while its partner JD(U) got 16 seats and LJP six seats.

The Congress party which contested 9 seats managed to win one seat in Muslim-dominated Kishanganj. The RJD was defeated on all seats in the previous Lok Sabha elections.