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PM calls up Nitish, sparks speculation

May 12, 2009 20:55 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telephoned Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday, triggering speculation that the Congress may not not have fully given up on wooing the Janata Dal-United for a post-poll tie up. A day after the two leaders exchanged words on central assistance to victims of last year's floods in the Kosi river, Singh called up and spoke for four to five minutes to Kumar who said they discussed the row over demand for refund of Rs 1000 crore given to the state by the Centre.

Denying that it was "political" call, Kumar said the prime minister had assured him that he will "re-look" into his complaint. "He (prime minister) said that he will re-look the complete matter and added that he had ordered the Cabinet Secretary... this is what he told me on the phone," the chief minister said.

Asked if any political issue was discussed, Kumar said "all else is your speculation and the bare fact is this. This was our complaint and he will have a relook. "... This is in interest of Bihar and not in my personal interest," he said Kumar, who joined an National Democratic Alliance rally on Sunday in Ludhiana amid talk of Congress and Left making overtures to him, asserted that he was with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance. "I have made it clear yesterday that we are with the NDA and we are a part of NDA," he told reporters.      

The Prime Minister's call came a day after Kumar hit out at Singh for describing as "absolutely false" the chief minister's statement at the NDA rally in Ludhiana on Sunday that the Centre had demanded refund of the Rs 1,000 crore given for incurring expenditure on the rehabilitation of the flood victims. He accused the PM of "misleading" the nation.
        
Kumar has been in the news over the last one week with Rahul Gandhi making overtures to him for a post-poll tie
up and Congress leaders also following it up with their own praise. However, after Kumar's appearance at the NDA rally and sharing the stage with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister raised questions over his secular credentials.
      
The chief minister snapped back saying he did not not need a certificate from the Prime Minister, who he said, was
behaving like the "vice chancellor of secularism university".
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