Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Jharkhand counterpart Sibu Soren on Tuesday failed to turn up for a key meeting here of chief ministers of four Naxal-affected states to fine tune the proposed offensives against Maoists.

The meeting, convened by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, to help states to coordinate their campaign against Naxals, began an hour behind schedule as Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik arrived late.

Mr. Soren, who did not attend due to illness, sent his two deputy chief ministers Raghubar Das and Sudesh Mahto, while Bihar government was represented by its home secretary Amir Subhani and DGP Anand Shankar.

Reports said Nitish Kumar kept away apparently after a request from Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee that the chief minister should not be seen in the company of her arch rival West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

The meeting reviewed at length the strategy adopted to deal with Maoists and coordination among neighbouring states as the Naxals often fled from one state to another after indulging in violence.

The discussions focussed on the offensives to be launched at the inter-state junctions of West Bengal-Jharkhand and Bihar-Jharkhand as these areas were considered hotbed of Left wing extremists, official sources said.

Developmental issues were also discussed at the meeting attended by CRPF chief Bikram Srivastav, Additional Secretary (Home) DRS Chowdhury, Additional Director (IB) P Mahendra, Joint Secretary (Home) Kashmir Singh and Security Advisor Brig D S Dadwal.

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