Ill health forced Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to cancel his scheduled visit to Chennai on Tuesday, where he was invited by his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin, a key aide of the JD(U) leader said.
However, Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister who was also invited, has left for the southern state.
“The chief minister took ill. Sudden physical illness can afflict anybody. He informed the Tamil Nadu CM and other people concerned,” Finance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary told reporters here.
Kumar and Yadav were invited to the inauguration of some initiatives of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu in memory of M Karunanidhi, a former chief minister and ex-president of the party, who was also the father of Stalin.
Yadav has left for Chennai along with Sanjay Kumar Jha, Bihar's minister for water resources and information and public relations department.
Chaudhary, who was talking to reporters at the JD(U)'s state headquarters, asserted that the June 23 meeting of opposition leaders which Kumar, the party's supreme leader, has convened, was “a matter of pride for the state”.
“Bihar once again finds itself at the epicentre of a political churn which will have national ramifications,” said Chaudhary, who also made light of the BJP's contention that the “united opposition” lacked cohesiveness and would not be able to agree upon a “face”.
“The BJP should remember that it has been part of experiments in the past when different parties have come together to upstage the ruling dispensation and the leader has been chosen after attaining the objective. The same will happen this time,” asserted the JD(U) leader.
Reacting to the BJP's repeated assertion that there was “no vacancy for the prime minister's post” in 2024, Chaudhary said the saffron party felt the same way in 2004 when, under the leadership of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it ended up tasting defeat.
“Let there be no doubts, a vacancy will be created at the June 23 meeting. There is a growing consensus among parties and the people that if all those who are opposed to the BJP come together, the behemoth can be bundled out for 100 seats or less,” he claimed.
He was also asked whether AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi and BSP supremo Mayawati, both of whom claim to be opposed to the BJP but are often accused of being in cahoots by others, were approached for the meeting.
Chaudhary replied: “Why do you ask about those who are on their way to political oblivion? Please do focus on those who are going to come. You will realise all those who matter are joining us in the mission”.
Leaders of close to 20 parties have given their assent to attend the meeting. These include at least three chief ministers - Stalin, Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and president Mallikarjun Kharge will also be flying down to attend the meeting besides a number of other leaders such as Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and Uddhav Thackeray.
Preparations are in full swing and posters of the visitors are being put up at vantage points in the city while the state guest house, where they are likely to be put up, is getting a facelift.
Chaudhary also hit back at the BJP for “giving a bad name to Bihar” and said the party, which shared power in the state until about a year ago, “would do well to study the latest NITI Aayog report”.
“Two districts of Bihar, Gaya and Jamui, have been placed among the top five in terms of the progress made in the fields of agriculture, water resources, health and nutrition. BJP leaders in Bihar are belittling their home state to show their loyalty towards the party. The people are taking note,” he said.
-With PTI Input