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Kejriwal Softly Rebukes Nitish Kumar, Believes his Action will Benefit Opposition

Kejriwal Softly Rebukes Nitish Kumar, Believes his Action will Benefit Opposition

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 29: The Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal believed that the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s repeated flip-flops and his latest foray into the BJP-led NDA on Sunday would actually benefit the opposition bloc INDIA in Bihar in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Kejriwal on Monday softly rebuked his Bihar counterpart for severing ties with the INDIA bloc and re-aligning with the BJP on Sunday evening triggering a seismic shift in the state’s already fluid political landscape less than three months before a general election.

Mr Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party is a member of the opposition bloc, said Nitish Kumar was “wrong” and that “this conduct is not right in a democracy.” He said he was optimistic about INDIA’s chances in Bihar in the April/May Lok Sabha election.

“I feel this is wrong… he should not have left. Such conduct is not good for democracy,” he told reporters this evening, “… but, as per my understanding, this will cause a huge loss to NDA (the BJP-led alliance) and INDIA will benefit.”

Nitish Kumar, who was instrumental in bringing many regional parties including the AAP in the INDIA fold, had met Mr Kejriwal in May last year, when the Bihar leader was crisscrossing the country in a bid to persuade opposition leaders to join INDIA.

Mr Kejriwal also said he expected the Chandigarh mayoral election – on Tuesday – to show how the AAP and Congress – squabbling over division of Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and Punjab – could work together as INDIA members.

The bloc – supposed to unite the opposition to defeat the BJP – could not come together for Assembly polls in November, including in three Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh; the BJP swept all three, triggering criticism of the Congress by group members, including Nitish Kumar. The Bihar Chief Minister then had attacked the Congress for dragging its feet on prepping for the Lok Sabha election.

Sources close to Mr Kumar said he was upset over the Congress (specifically Rahul Gandhi) snubbing him for the roles of both INDIA Convenor and PM candidate despite his contribution. Mr Kejriwal’s comments are significant given similar tension between the Punjab units of his party and the Congress – over Lok Sabha seat-sharing talks in the border state. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said last week the party had candidates for all 13 seats, after which the Congress’ state boss, Partap Bajwa, said “this is what we in Punjab wanted…”

The AAP-Congress spat in Punjab and Nitish Kumar’s jumping shop in Bihar are only two of the three massive headaches facing the INDIA bloc as it unravels even before election dates are announced. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is widely seen as a key member, has also backed out; last week she ruled out any alliance with the Congress in her state blaming the party’s Bengal leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s frequent attacks on Ms Banerjee and her government for the irrevocable parting of ways.

 

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