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Nitish downplays defection of JD(U) MLAs to BJP in Arunachal

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Patna, Dec 25: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday sought to downplay the split suffered by the Janata Dal (United) in Arunachal Pradesh where all but one MLA of the party have joined the BJP.

Nitish Kumar

Kumar, who is the JD(U)s national president, sought to dismiss with a bitter laugh the development in the north- eastern state, where his party had won seven seats in the assembly polls held last year and become the main opposition group while the BJP, his coalition partner in Bihar, had achieved power.

"We are focusing on our proposed meeting. They have gone their own way", Kumar said in response to queries from journalists about the split that came ahead of the JD(U)s national executive and national council meetings scheduled here this weekend.

The JD(U) has been contesting assembly polls in a number of states without having a truck with the BJP, insisting that its tie-up with the saffron party was "confined to Bihar".

Ahead of Arunachal Pradesh panchayat, civic poll results, JD(U) suffers setback, six MLAs join BJP

The party made an exception only in the Delhi assembly polls earlier this year which it fought in alliance with the BJP though the coalition suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Aam Aadmi Party.

The success in Arunachal Pradesh had helped the JD(U) gain recognition as a state party there, a development which was hailed by its rank and file as an evidence of its growing footprint under the leadership of the Bihar Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, the opposition RJD-Congress combine came out with statements asserting that the development in Arunachal Pradesh gave a hint of the shape of things to come in Bihar where the JD(U) has already ceased to be the senior partner in the coalition.

"The BJP, by violating the coalition dharma, has sought to send out a clear message that it cares two hoots about Nitish Kumar who, on the other hand, is wary of even reacting", RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said in his statement.

He also claimed that at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital recently, the states two Deputy CMs- Tar Kishor Prasad and Renu Devi- were told by the former that the people of Bihar had reposed their trust in BJP which resulted in a majority for the NDA.

BJP won 74 seats in the October-November Bihar polls catapulting NDA to power notwithstanding poor showiung by the JD(U) whose tally slided to 43 from 69 earlier.

"This can be construed as an assertion that the BJP, and not Nitish Kumar, enjoyed the trust of the people... the game that the BJP had sought to play by propping up Chirag Paswan against the Chief Minister is unravelling", said Tiwary, who has formerly been with the JD(U).

He also said that Kumar will be "welcomed" if he chose to take "a courageous decision instead of enduring slights". BPCC spokesman Rajesh Rathor said in his statement that the development in Arunachal Pradesh was a warning signal for Nitish Kumar who needed to act "before it is too late".

"It has been BJPs wont to swallow, like a python, its alliance partners. It tried to do so, unsuccessfully, with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. In Arunachal Pradesh, it has poached JD(U) MLAs despite having a majority", Rathor alleged.

Alleging that the Bihar Chief Minister was "no more in a situation to even heave a sigh of lament", the Congress spokesman asked Kumar to make haste "lest you may end up losing a major chunk of your MLAs to the ambitious BJP in Bihar as well".

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