Nothing political about meetings with LJP MP, Kanhaiya : Nitish

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(Rptg after correcting date in penultimate para) Patna, Feb 17 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday insisted that nothing much should be read into his recent meeting with an MP of the LJP, which is headed by his bte noire Chirag Paswan, since members of Parliament and the state legislature call on him regularly over matters relating to their constituencies.

About the visit of CPI's Kanhaiya Kumar to his key aide and cabinet colleague Ashok Choudhary, the chief minister said that the former JNU student leader and an MLA of his party had met him earlier but did not discuss politics.

Nitish Kumar, who gave up the post of JD(U)s national president recently but continGFues to wield supreme control over it, was asked by reporters at the partys state headquarters here whether Paswan needs to worry after LJP Nawada MP Chandan Kumar Singhs visit to the chief minister's official residence on Sunday.

There is nothing to be worried about. Being the chief minister I am often approached by members of the state legislature and the Parliament who wish to discuss matters relating to their areas. They come when I grant an appointment and we talk. Thats it, he said.

Notably, the Singh's visit came less than a month after LJPs lone MLA Raj Kumar Singh had taken part in a book launch ceremony held at Choudhary's residence.

Chirag Paswans rebellion against Kumar ahead of the Bihar assembly election in which he fielded candidates against JD(U) nominees, cost the party dearly causing its tally to fall below 50 in the 243-strong house.

The LJP and JD(U), both NDA allies, have since been at daggers drawn. At a recent NDA meeting in New Delhi chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Paswan excused himself citing ill-health after the JD(U) raised strong objections over invitation having been extended to him despite his brinkmanship in the assembly poll.

About Kanhaiya Kumar, who met Choudhary Sunday afternoon along with CPI MLA Suryakant Paswan, the chief minister said Kanhaiya had met me before. And so had a legislator of his party. But our discussions were about issues relating to their constituencies. There was nothing political about it.

Reports in a section of the media had claimed that Kanhaiya, who is understood to be sore over the manner in which he has been treated by the CPI a number of times, was considering crossing over to the JD(U), an ally of the BJP.

The CPI central office in Delhi later came out with an angry statement condemning the mala fide and mischievous intentions of some sections of the media to malign the CPI and Kanhaiya Kumar.

Asked about JD(U) raising the demand for caste-based census in the Lok Sabha, Nitish Kumar said This is a genuine demand and is one we have been raising for quite some time. In the past we had even sent resolutions to this effect which were passed by both houses of the state legislature to the Centre.

'We must have an accurate idea of the respective population of different social groups so that we can formulate policies accordingly, he said.

Nitish Kumar also expressed confidence that the budget session of the assembly, which will commence on February 19 and conclude on March 24, will be conducted safely. Members have been asked to take precautions like wearing of masks in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020 the budget session was curtailed in view of the outbreak. This year, the opposition Grand Alliance led by RJDs Tejashwi Yadav has threatened to boycott the assembly and gherao the chief ministers residence if the session was shortened in the name of the pandemic. PTI NAC KK KK KK