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Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022
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PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seems intent on mending fences with estranged former colleagues as part of the spadework for posing a credible challenge to the BJP’s national hegemony. Kumar received at his official residence here on Monday night Pavan Varma, the diplomat-turned-politician who had served as a national general secretary of the JD(U) until expulsion from the party in 2020 in the heat of the controversy over CAA-NPR-NRC.
“My meeting with Nitish ji was a courtesy call. We have been old friends, notwithstanding political differences that may have emerged from time to time,” Varma told PTI over phone.
The former IFS officer, who quit the Trinamool Congress last month, however asserted that he had “no plans, as of now” to join any political party but added that he had “congratulated” Kumar for having dumped the BJP, thereby stripping it of power in the state, and found the latter’s efforts at forging a united opposition “praiseworthy”.
Varma had fallen out with Kumar over the latter’s ambivalence over the Citizenship Amendment Bill which the JD(U) had ended up voting for in both houses of Parliament.
The career diplomat had expressed his anguish on social media, sharing details of conversations with the Bihar CM wherein the latter, then in the National Democratic Alliance, had expressed “his discomfort over the BJP’s Hindutva politics”.
Kumar, known to be a stickler for privacy, had expressed his annoyance with Varma’s disclosure in public.
Varma ended up being ousted from the JD(U) alongside political strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor who had similarly ended up rubbing the Bihar CM the wrong way.
Varma’s meeting with Kumar has, however, set the rumour mill in action and reports have appeared in a section of the media speculating that the former IFS officer has been assigned the task of “winning back” Kishor, who has given up the business of political consultancy and taken up activism.
On a consolidation drive since the JD(U)’s drubbing in the 2020 assembly polls, Kumar has shown willingness to swallow his pride by moves like re-induction of Upendra Kushwaha who merged his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party last year and got the key party post of parliamentary board chief.
Incidentally, Kishor had also met Kumar several months ago in Delhi though both have maintained that it was a “courtesy call”.
Moreover, Kishor has been deprecative of Kumar’s exit from the NDA and maintaining that it was a “state specific” event which was unlikely to have any national impact.
Kumar, who was then the JD(U)’s national president, had inducted Kishor into the party in 2018 and elevated the young professional to the post of national vice president weeks later.
Nonetheless, during his Delhi visit last month, the septuagenarian had many unkind words to speak about his former protege, whom he accused of “not knowing the ABC” of the good governance in Bihar.
Kishor has pulled no punches in hitting back and said Kumar deserved to be a “brand ambassador for Fevicol” since he has mastered the art of remaining glued to his chair amidst all political storms.
Known to speak his mind even while he was in the party, Kishor has also claimed that he had asked Kumar after the 2020 assembly polls not to agree to become the chief minister and the latter’s refusal to heed the advice has resulted in a “loss of political capital”.
“I was then busy in West Bengal. I had spoken to Nitish ji after the assembly poll results and told him that he would be hamstrung if he ran a government with just 43 MLAs in the 243-strong assembly. As he himself has said and the BJP has also confirmed, he showed reluctance initially but gave in”, Kishor told a news channel.

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