Bhubaneswar, March 7 (IANS) Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United President Nitish Kumar and senior JD-U leader Sharad Yadav on Tuesday met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here, fanning speculation about a new non-BJP front in the offing.
However, both the JD-U leaders described the meeting as "personal and not political". They said the meeting with the Biju Janata Dal leader as a courtesy call.
Both leaders met Patnaik at his residence separately.
Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav were in the Odisha capital city to attend the funeral ceremony of former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray, who died at SCB medical college and hospital in Cuttack on Monday.
"How could I return without meeting Naveen Patnaik-ji? I had met Naveenji in New Delhi a few months ago. The meeting was purely personal. I met him as we have a personal relationship," Nitish Kumar told media persons here.
Sharad Yadav termed the meeting as personal and said there was no talk on a proposed Third Front.
"Will comment on the 'Third Front' when time is appropriate, not now," he told media persons. "It was a courtesy visit. Whenever I visit Odisha, I meet Naveen Babu. I share a family relationship with him. There was no talk on Third Front," said Yadav.
Both the leaders also discussed the ongoing Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and the recently-concluded Panchayat polls in Odisha, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party has made major gains.
Reacting to the meeting, BJP National Secretary Suresh Pujari said, "They can't defeat BJP even being united. The BJP is with the people and people are with the party."