Nitish to skip Tuesday's meeting of Oppn leaders?
Nitish Kumar has given the opposition fresh worries by deciding not to attend a meeting of 17 parties on Tuesday in Delhi. Curiously, the Chief Minister of Bihar has instead called all his party leaders including national and state legislators to a conclave in Patna.
In April, it was he who, along with his ally Lalu Yadav, suggested to Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi that she create a robust anti-BJP front. An acid test for Opposition unity ahead of the 2019 national election would have been to put up a joint candidate for President of India.
But then, last month, in a big jolt to Opposition unity, Kumar announced that he would, in fact, support the BJP nominee. The Bihar chief minister said that the opposition was at that time still undecided about who it would field and that the BJP's choice, Ram Nath Kovind, was a Governor of Bihar, and his candidature for the top constitutional post was a matter of pride for Bihar. Nitish Kumar's decision, however, was seen in the context of growing proximity to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. The meeting on Tuesday in Delhi, to be chaired by the Congress president, is intended to shortlist the likely nominee for Vice President who will be chosen next month (after the presidential election is completed on July 17). By naming their candidate before the BJP, the opposition wants to ensure that it gives Nitish Kumar no reason to leave the Opposition in the lurch yet again.