Nitish Kumar can return to NDA any time, says Athawale; takes dig at opposition alliance

Mumbai:  Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Sunday said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who snapped ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year, can return to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) any time.

Talking to PTI, Athawale said Nitish Kumar was part of the NDA earlier and despite the BJP getting more seats in the assembly elections in Bihar last time, he was made the chief minister.

The minister also took a dig at the opposition’s INDIA alliance, alleging that its sole agenda was to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi from power.

Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) snapped ties with the saffron party and walked out of the NDA in August 2022. He later joined hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and formed a new government. He is one of the most significant faces of the opposition parties’ alliance – INDIA.

“Nitish Kumar can come back to us anytime,” the Union Minister of State for Social Justice, whose Republican Party of India (Athawale) is part of the ruling NDA, said.

Athawale said, Nitish Kumar had reservations about the name of the opposition’s INDIA alliance, and also there are divisions within the grouping on who will be its convener and also the prime ministerial candidate.

“I was in Patna yesterday and I was asked about the reported displeasure of Nitish Kumar who had left the Bengaluru meet of the opposition alliance early,” Athawale said.

“I said if he (Nitish Kumar) is not happy, he shouldn’t go to Mumbai (for the next meeting of the INDIA alliance). He had been with the NDA earlier and can come back to us anytime,” he added.

Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, known by its abbreviation ‘INDIA’, is an opposition front announced by the leaders of 26 parties to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Athawale, however, said that ‘INDIA’ stood for “Introduction Negative Date Idea Alliance”.

“Its agenda is ‘Modi hatao’ (remove Modi), while our agenda is development of the country,” he said.

The minister claimed that Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar are of no use to Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, while she is of no use to the opposition in Maharashtra.

“Similarly, Mamata Banerjee and Communists have been at loggerheads for long,” he said.