Nitish meets Jaitley, Ananth Kumar

In a move aimed at reducing the friction within the Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (United) alliance in this crucial election year, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday met BJP leader Arun Jaitley and party in-charge of the State, Ananth Kumar.

This was the first major meeting between Mr. Kumar and the BJP leaders after the former returned the Kosi flood relief of Rs. 5 crore to Gujarat over publication of posters of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The controversy arose during the BJP national executive meeting here, when local papers were splashed with advertisements lauding Gujarat's contribution to the Kosi flood victims. The move evoked sharp criticism from Mr. Kumar, who termed Gujarat's claim on flood relief “uncivilised” and against Indian culture, triggering controversy.

Earlier in the morning, Mr. Kumar met Mr. Jaitley, Mr. Ananth Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan at State BJP president C.P. Thakur's residence for breakfast.

After the meeting which lasted more than two hours, according to sources, Mr. Kumar left for Saharsa, while the BJP core committee formally held a meeting at the residence of BJP MLC Ganga Prasad.

Addressing journalists, Mr. Ananth Kumar said the discussion with JD(U) leaders took place in “an extremely cordial atmos phere.”

Skirts Modi issue

Steering clear of the sticky issue of Mr. Modi campaigning in Bihar, Mr. Ananth Kumar merely said that “the list of campaigners would be duly disclosed after the party had finished drawing up the list, which would be after two months.”

He refused to say anything on whether there were any discussions on the seat-sharing arrangement, and said it would be revealed in due time.

“Today, we only deliberated on how to win the polls jointly,” said Mr. Ananth Kumar.