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Grand alliance in Bihar to set up Coordination Committee

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Patna, Aug 13: A coordination committee, which the JD(U) kept pressing for while in the BJP-led NDA, may be set up to ensure smooth functioning of the "Mahagathbandhan" (Grand Alliance) that now rules Bihar upon the entry of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, news agency PTI reported.

There were indications to this effect on Friday evening when MLAs of the CPI(ML), the fourth largest constituent of the Grand Alliance, called on the Chief Minister, the JD(U)'s de facto leader, at his residence.

Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav

"The chief minister was strongly in favour of a coordination committee and we felt the same. No ally is likely to have any objection. It may, therefore, come up in due course," CPI(ML) MLA Sandeep Saurav told PTI.

The Grand Alliance at present comprises seven parties - JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M) and HAM - which together have more than 160 MLAs in the 243-strong assembly.

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Notably, while the JD(U) and the BJP were still in an acrimonious tie-up, many leaders of the former had stressed the need for a coordination committee which was in place during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's time with George Fernandes as its convenor.

JD(U) leaders were of the view that the absence of such a committee left different constituents with no platform to voice their divergent opinions before each other and hence they ended up doing so in the media, leading to deterioration in relations.

Though the BJP seems firmly in saddle with a brute majority in the Lok Sabha, the NDA is in tatters, with most of its prominent constituents including TDP, Shiv Sena and Siromani Akali Dal, now out of the coalition.

Moreover, the need for such a committee is likely to grow stronger as the Grand Alliance, at present limited to Bihar, may evolve into a formation with wider appeal across several other states. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed his intention to work for a united opposition to take on the BJP's hegemony.

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To this end, the chief minister is also expected to visit New Delhi next week, shortly after the expansion of his cabinet. In the national capital, Kumar is likely to meet top opposition leaders, including Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, said sources close to him.

Meanwhile, Saurav also said that the CPI(ML)'s state committee meeting is scheduled here on Saturday which will be attended, among others, by secretary general Dipankar Bhattacharya.
Bhattacharya had earlier this week indicated that the party might not join the new government, preferring to support it from outside, though he had pitched for a "common minimum programme".

Saurav said that Bhattacharya may call on the chief minister to discuss a further plan of action with regard to building an anti-BJP front.

Besides the 12-MLA-strong CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M) which have two MLAs each, have decided to extend outside support to the government.

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