BHUBANESWAR, May 9 (PTI): Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday called on his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik and held a discussion for around an hour at Naveen Niwas here.
However, both the CMs claimed that no discussion on any political alliance between the JD(U) and BJD for the Lok Sabha elections next year was held in the meeting.
Patnaik and Kumar had lunch at the Odisha chief minister’s residence and then jointly addressed the media, stating they share a very old relationship.
“No discussion was held on any alliance today. I am delighted that Nitish ji came to Bhubaneswar. We are old friends and colleagues ever since we served in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet,” Patnaik told reporters.
Patnaik said the Odisha government will provide 1.5 acres of land to Bihar government free of cost in Puri for building facilities for tourists coming for darshan of Lord Jagannath.
Patnaik shared some photographs from the meeting, and tweeted: “Glad to meet #Bihar Chief Minister Shri @NitishKumar in #Bhubaneswar. #Odisha shares a special bond with Bihar and the people of the neighbouring state. Hope he had a pleasant and fruitful stay in Odisha.”
Kumar said, “Our relation with his (Naveen) father Biju Babu and Naveen ji is very old. Due to the Covid pandemic, we could not meet. No political discussions were held. We have good relations and there is no need to discuss any politics.”
The denial of both leaders from discussing politics comes amid talks of unity among non-BJP parties ahead of next year’s polls.
Earlier in the day, Kumar was welcomed at the Biju Patnaik International Airport by state minister Ashok Chandra Panda and BJD vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra. He is scheduled to leave Bhubaneswar during the day.
Both Kumar and Patnaik lead their respective parties and it was expected that they would discuss politics ahead of the 2024 polls and work towards unity among regional parties.
Kumar is opposed to the BJP, while Patnaik’s party has claimed that it maintains an equal distance from both the Congress and the saffron party.
The Bihar CM, who is trying to unite anti-BJP politicians, has so far met leaders of various parties including his West Bengal counterpart and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with the aim to form an opposition front.
Banerjee had met Patnaik in March this year.
Odisha BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said the meeting between Patnaik and Kumar will not have any impact on the saffron party.
“Naveen Patnaik always does whatever is in his interest. If he thinks that joining the third front will help him, he might do so and if he thinks it won’t help, he will not join,” he said.
BJD MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said, “Kumar wants a reformative and alternative front in the country. He may discuss the matter with Naveen Patnaik. But the CM has already cleared that the BJD will maintain equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP.”