New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is in Delhi to attend a dinner hosted by PM Narendra Modi for outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee, met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi one-on-one for 40 minutes this evening. Sources said Mr Kumar discussed corruption charges against Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's son, Tejashwi Yadav. The conversation between Mr Kumar and Rahul Gandhi comes at a time their coalition in Bihar, the Mahagatbandhan, is in serious trouble amid these corruption charges.
- Nitish Kumar attends dinner hosted by PM for outgoing President
- Earlier, met Rahul Gandhi, raised allegations against deputy Tejashwi
- Mahagatbandhan in trouble amid corruption charges against the Yadavs
Nitish Kumar, attended PM Modi's dinner as the president of his party Janata Dal (United), had earlier confirmed that he will attend President-elect Ram Nath Kovind's oath ceremony on Tuesday in a separate trip to the capital and will also pack in a long overdue meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
Allies Nitish Kumar and the Congress are also trying to bridge the gap that busted out after they decided to back competing candidates for the post of President. Mr Kumar, going against the united opposition's stand, chose to support the BJP's choice, Mr Kovind, who was the Governor of Bihar. Mr Kumar had asserted that his support for Mr Kovind was based only on the 71-year-old leader's credentials and his impeccable neutrality during his tenure as Bihar Governor.
Sources close to the Chief Minister had told NDTV that Mr Kumar, upset with the Congress' vocal support for Lalu Yadav, had cancelled his earlier visit to Delhi to attend the meeting of 18 opposition parties to select the vice presidential candidate. He sent Sharad Yadav, his party's other top leader, but clearly his endorsement was important to the opposition bloc.
Hours later, Rahul Gandhi in a phone call "discussed various issues" with Mr Kumar and snagged his formal sign-off on the vice presidential nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Mr Gandhi has reportedly made it clear to his party that the alliance with Nitish Kumar in Bihar must be urgently restocked, a mission that he supposedly wants to lead, according to sources.
Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad attacked the Bihar Chief Minister suggesting that he has flexible principles; Nitish Kumar, who says he is still committed to the opposition unity, retaliated that the opposition is in "a mess" because its anchor, the Congress, is slow-footed.
Though the Congress has left it to Mr Kumar to decide on whether his deputy Tejashwi Yadav should quit, the party has come out in Lalu Yadav's support, backing his claim that he is being subjected to political vendetta.
Mr Kumar had sought an explanation from Yadavs earlier this month as the minimum requirement for keeping the alliance alive, though he made it clear that what he prefers that Tejashwi Yadav should quit. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, blustered that would not happen, further angering Nitish Kumar.