The Bihar Post

Mamata’s praise for Nitish: Is something cooking between two old political friends?

West Bengal CM praises Nitish for the first time in many years after she had dubbed him as 'traitor' for not opposing note-ban


PATNA: Is Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar coming closer to his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee once again after years of strained relations?

The question is being hotly debated in the political circles after Banerjee today congratulated chief minister Kumar for breaking alliance with the BJP outside Bihar.

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“I have come across a statement from Nitish Kumar that he wouldn’t form any alliance with the NDA outside Bihar. I would like to congratulate him. Thanks to him,” Banerjee told the media in Kolkata on Monday, after holding administrative review meeting.

The “goody-goody” words came hours after chief minister Kumar-led JD-U had on Sunday decided that it would not be a part of the NDA outside Bihar although it would fight the next assembly polls under the NDA.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the JD-U’s national executive meeting and it is this decision which has been welcomed by the West Bengal chief minister.

But this was not the lone reason for Banerjee’s congratulations. She had another reason to be happy.

As such, the BJP raised much hue and cry when JD-U vice-president and prominent poll strategist Prashant Kishor agreed to work for Banerjee’s party, Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Banerjee hired the services of poll strategist Kishor after her party faced strong challenge from the BJP in the just-held LS polls when the saffron party managed to win 18 seats against TMC’s 22 in West Bengal.

At least two senior BJP leaders strongly reacted to this move by the JD-U vice-president. At first it was state BJP vice-president Mrintunjay Jha who suggested the JD-U to behave responsibly lest it would damage their alliance.

Then came BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya who also expressed annoyance over Kishor’s activities.

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“Amit Shah is a bigger poll strategist than Kishor. Amit Shah is the principal of the college where Kishor is enrolled as a student. Nothing is going to help Mamata now,” was how Vijayvargiya was quoted as saying in the media.

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The JD-U, however, has summarily rejected any objections over this issue. On Saturday, the chief minister himself cleared his stand over Kishor issue saying he had nothing to do with the professional agency of the Kishor lending its services to any party and that he was successfully carrying out the responsibility assigned to him by the party.

A day later on Sunday, Kumar’s JD-U also gave a “green signal” to Kishor, rejecting all objections from BJP, his Bihar ally.

“The JD-U has nothing to do with Kishor’s professional firm but the party wants the TMC to lose in West Bengal elections,” JD-U national general secretary KC Tyagi told the media on Sunday.

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Apparently, it is these twin reasons that has kept Banerjee happy and brought her a little bit closer to Nitish Kumar after strained relations.

The strained relations were visible when Nitish Kumar skipped Banerjee’s dharma (sit-in) in Patna seeking rollback of Narendra Modi government’s demonetization decision. Lalu Prasad’s RJD, however, joined her dharna.

The TMC dharma was staged in December 2016 when the JD-U and the RJD were together running the Grand Alliance government in Bihar.

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