BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar met here for more than an hour on Tuesday but later claimed that there was no discussion on politics or any alliance for the 2024 general election.
Kumar, also the JD(U) supremo, callled on Patnaik, who is the BJD president, at his residence ‘Navin Niwas’ here amid speculation that the two non-BJP and non-Congress leaders will discuss the proposed partnership among the non-BJP parties ahead of the 2024 general election.
Glad to meet #Bihar Chief Minister Shri @NitishKumar in #Bhubaneswar. #Odisha shares a special bond with Bihar and the people of the neighbouring state. Hope he had a pleasant and fruitful stay in Odisha. pic.twitter.com/tPGtvRisAz
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) May 9, 2023
The speculation on an emerging alliance at the national level ahead of the poll had its roots in Nitish Kumar’s earlier meetings with AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party leader Akilesh Yadav and others. Kumar had also made it clear that he was in the process of uniting the non-BJP leaders.
विपक्षी एकता के अगुआ बने मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार, उड़ीसा जाकर मुख्यमंत्री श्री नवीन पटनायक से की मुलाकात, बिना व्यक्तिगत महत्वाकांक्षा के विपक्षी पार्टियों को कर रहे एकजुट।#JDU #NitishKumar #Bihar #Odisha #VipakshiEkta #Opposition pic.twitter.com/RkM5EV9IcC
— Janata Dal (United) (@Jduonline) May 9, 2023
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is now likely to call on Maharashtra stalwarts Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray later this week, sources in the JD(U) said in Patna. The Bihar chief minister also had his lunch with Patnaik at his home. However, both the leaders after the hour-long meeting said that being old friends they talked of matters other than politics fuelling curiosity.
The meeting between the two took place ahead of Patnaik’s proposed three-day trip to Delhi from Wednesday, while the JD(U) in a tweet later claimed that Nitish Kumar has become the leader of the united-Opposition against the BJP-led NDA. “Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has become the leader of opposition unity, went to Odisha and met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik uniting opposition parties without personal ambition,” the JD(U) tweeted in Hindi.
Patnaik, however, refuted speculations about any political understanding between the two leaders. ”No discussion was held on any alliance today. I am delighted that Nitish ji came to Bhubaneswar. We are old friends and colleagues ever since we served in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet,” he told reporters.
He said the Odisha will provide 1.5 acres to Bihar government free of cost in Puri for building facilities for tourists coming for darshan of Lord Jagannath.
He shared some photographs from the meeting and tweeted, ”Glad to meet #Bihar Chief Minister Shri @NitishKumar in #Bhubaneswar. #Odisha shares a special bond with Bihar and the people of the neighbouring state. Hope he had a pleasant and fruitful stay in Odisha”.
Kumar said, ”Our relation with his (Naveen) father Biju Babu (Patnaik) and Naveen ji is a very old one. We could not meet due to the pandemic. No political discussions were held (during the meeting). We have good relations and there is no need to discuss any politics.” Earlier in the day, Kumar was welcomed at the Biju Patnaik International Airport by state minister Ashok Chandra Panda and BJD vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra. Both Kumar and Patnaik lead their respective parties and it was expected that they would discuss politics ahead of the 2024 polls and work towards unity among regional parties.
Kumar is opposed to BJP, with which his party broke its alliance in August 2022, and has claimed that the JD(U) maintains an equal distance the saffron party and Congress.
Banerjee had met Patnaik in March in Bhubaneswar. Odisha BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said the meeting between Patnaik and Kumar will not have any impact on the party.
”Naveen Patnaik always does whatever is in his interest. If he thinks that joining the third front will help him, he might do so and if he thinks it won’t, he will not join it,” he said.
BJD MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said, ”Kumar wants a reformative and alternative front in the country. He may discuss the matter with Naveen Patnaik. But Patnaik has already made it cleared that BJD will maintain equidistance from both Congress and the BJP.”
Source: Press Trust of India