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Nitish Kumar faces roadblocks
Paswan firm on not taking BJP support
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar's move to cobble up a majority for a non-RJD government formation in Bihar ran into serious obstacles today as LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan remained firm on his demand of not taking outside or inside support of the BJP. Even the CPI refused to extend support.

The CPI, whose three MLAs have been included by Mr Nitish Kumar and Mr Paswan in their proposed third front, ridiculed the move saying it appears to be an "opportunistic gathering hungry to come to power.

"If Mr Paswan thinks he can sail in two boats then he can try the experiment. As far as Mr Kumar is concerned, he is still with the BJP and supports it," CPI general secretary A.B.Bardhan told reporters in Chandigarh.

Mr Paswan, who holds the key to government formation, has virtually poured cold water on Mr Kumar's hopes by remaining firm on not taking inside or outside support of the BJP.

"Let them (Paswan-Kumar) first make it clear what sort of government they can give and whether they are actually are in the position to form a government. There are many birds in the bush now," Mr Bardhan said.

"We will not give any letter of support to him," he said about Mr Kumar, who has sent copies of the Common Minimum Programme prepared at the JD(U)'s brainstorming session at Rajgir that concluded on Thursday to six non-RJD parties, including the CPI and some independents along with invitation for talks.

Mr Kumar had earlier claimed that along with 48 MLAs from the six parties and 17 Independents, JD(U) which alone had 55 MLAs could reach a total of 120, two short of a simple majority in the 243-member House.

The six parties are Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP with 29 MLAs, the CPI(ML) (7), the SP (4), the NCP and the CPI three each and the BSP two.

Mr Kumar is also understood to have held talks with Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Singh Yadav to seek support of his four MLAs.

In the meantime, the BJP has been actively supporting Mr Kumar's efforts. The BJP feels that if a non-RJD government comes to power in Bihar then the differences within the UPA would get sharpened.

"Constructive steps are being taken to form a government in Bihar. We see positive signals in this regard. Just wait and see what happens," BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told newspersons here at a specially convened media conference.

"From the beginning, the BJP desired that there shouldn't have been President rule after people gave their verdict for forming a government in the Assembly elections. We wish that a non-RJD government is formed," he said.

While Mr Naqvi declined to comment on queries whether the BJP will support the JD-U from outside or whether Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP will also be roped in to form a non-RJD government in Bihar, sources said that the BJP would do its best to ensure that a JD (U) led-government comes to power in the state.

Referring to the recent meeting of JD-U leader Nitish Kumar with BJP president L.K. Advani, he said the party had projected Mr Kumar as the next Chief Minister of Bihar when it contested the Assembly elections.

"We wish that governance improves in Bihar and development is speeded up," he said.

The President rule was imposed in Bihar as no party was able to cobble up majority to form a government.

Though the JD (U) leader declined to divulge details of the last night talks that was held with BJP President L.K. Advani, sources said that Mr Kumar not only apprised the NDA senior partner of the exercise but also stressed the importance of his exercise which would weaken the UPA.

Mr Kumar yesterday attended a breakfast meeting hosted by Bihar SP chief Daddan Pahalwan in Patna where Mr Paswan was also present.


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