Monday, September 13, 2010

Another showdown between top allies in Bihar?

Increasing possibilities of the BJP inviting Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to campaign for it for the Assembly polls in Bihar have heightened the JD(U)’s worries and set the stage for yet another showdown between Bihar’s two ruling allies.

BJP national vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s statement in Delhi on Monday that Mr Modi would be among top BJP leaders campaigning in Bihar failed to evoke any direct response from Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. Known for his steadfast opposition to any suggestion for getting Mr Modi to campaign for the NDA in Bihar, Mr Kumar laughed enigmatically when asked about Mr Naqvi’s statement, which the BJP leader later retracted.

“I do not know about it (Naqvi’s statement). Why do you ask fictitious questions? You are asking because you may be knowing, but I do not know,” said Mr Kumar to reporters pressing him for a comment. But JD(U) sources said soon after news of Mr Naqvi’s statement reached him, Mr Kumar frowned and contacted JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who had a meeting with top BJP leaders earlier in the day to streamline a joint strategy for the Assembly polls.

Bihar BJP president C.P. Thakur also said he had no idea about Mr Modi’s coming to Bihar. Unlike some other BJP leaders in Bihar, Mr Thakur, however, has never enthusiastically spoken in favour of the Gujarat chief minister’s need for campaigning in Bihar.

According to JD(U) leaders, the BJP’s insistence on getting Mr Modi to campaign in Bihar could harm the NDA’s chances in the October-November polls.

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