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Nitin Kumar's return to NDA won't affect opposition INDIA alliance: Sanjay Raut

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Pune, Jan 29 (PTI) Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said on Monday said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's return to the NDA fold will not affect the opposition INDIA alliance and claimed the Congress was in favour of appointing Kumar as the convener of the opposition bloc.

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Speaking to the reporters here, Raut dubbed Nitish Kumar as "Paltu Ram".

JD(U) president Nitish Kumar on Sunday took oath as the chief minister of Bihar for a record ninth time after a dramatic volte-face, ditching the Mahagathbandhan and the opposition bloc INDIA and forming a new government with the BJP, which he had dumped less than 18 months ago.

Raut said the way Kumar left the INDIA bloc is unfortunate.

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"But if someone thinks that the exit of Nitish Kumar will create a rift in the national (INDIA) alliance, then it is not correct. In fact, the organisation gets tougher if such people leave, and the INDIA bloc will also become stronger," the Rajya Sabha member said.

"There is Tejashwi Yadav (of RJD who was the deputy CM of Bihar until Kumar walked out of the alliance), there is the Congress, and some other parties, and they will make the INDIA bloc stronger," he said.

Raut said "Nitish does not mean Bihar" and asked will people of that state like it if a person takes oath (as CM) multiple times in one tenure.

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They do not know the real face of the BJP, and they (BJP) are going to finish Nitish Kumar, he claimed.

"It is the BJP's ploy...to finish Bihar's identity, but Nitish does not mean Bihar. In Maharashtra also they experimented with (Chief Minister) Eknath Shinde, but Shinde does not mean Maharashtra, or (Deputy CM) Ajit Pawar does not mean Maharashtra," he said.

Raut also said the Congress has no role in Nitish Kumar's exit from the opposition alliance.

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"In fact, the Congress was in favour of appointing Nitish as the convener of the INDIA bloc," he claimed.

"The Congress had discussions with us but at the same time information was coming that Nitish was having some secret deal with the BJP. In politics, everyone keeps information on everyone," he said.

Raut dubbed Nitish Kumar as "Paltu Ram" and asked how many times will he indulge in "volte-face".

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"He should go to a circus. The circus will have acche din (good days). He should form a Paltu Ram circus and make the BJP its ringmaster," he said.

Terming Nitish Kumar as a "mentally and politically" anxious person, Raut claimed the Bihar CM's health was not well and that a person close to him said he was suffering from "partial memory loss".

"He might have forgotten that he was in the INDIA alliance. When he gains his memory, he will come to know that he is in the other fold and will come back. This is called Alzheimer's (disease)," he said.

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The Shiv Sena (UBT) leader also claimed that Kumar and the BJP have lost credibility in Bihar.

He told reporters that Union minister Amit Shah, who had said that they will not ally with Nitish Kumar even if he came to the BJP with folded hands, is now welcoming him.

On if the BJP offers an alliance with the Shiv Sena (UBT), Raut claimed the BJP does not have that courage.

"Our fight is for ethics and for the pride of Maharashtra. You (BJP) did not attack the root of Shiv Sena, but attacked the identity of Maharashtra, and that is why the Shiv Sena will not compromise with such elements," he said.

Asked about differences among ministers in the 'Mahayuti' (ruling alliance) in Maharashtra over a notification on the Maratha reservation issue, Raut said if there is any rift over the decision, then Chief Minister Eknath Shinde should sack those ministers.

"If any minister is against the cabinet decision and the CM's decision, then such minister can be sacked," he added.

CM Shinde has announced that till Marathas get reservation, they will be given all the benefits enjoyed by the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

A draft notification was issued recently by the government, stating that blood relatives of a Maratha person, who has records to show that he belongs to the agrarian Kunbi community, would also be recognised as Kunbi.

An agrarian community, Kunbi falls in the OBC category.

State cabinet minister Chhagan Bhujbal has criticised the government's move over the quota issue and questioned the "backdoor entry" of Marathas into the OBC category. PTI SPK GK

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