BJP split down the middle over Narendra Modi
Patna: To invite Narendra Modi or not? That seems to be the Hamletian dilemma for the the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), part of the ruling alliance in Bihar, with one leader saying yes and the other a firm no.
BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said Wednesday quite firmly that the Gujarat chief minister should not be invited for the April 15 ‘hunkar’ rally of the party. Though the rally, said to be a show of strength for the BJP, is only in April, the debate over the party’s man in Gujarat is already intensifying.
In an interview to a local daily, Sushil Modi said that it was not just Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (of the Janata Dal-United) but the BJP’s central leadership too that had decided at the very outset not to engage Narendra Modi in Bihar.
“There is nothing personal in it. Given the social composition, ground reality and the NDA’s political interest in the state, the BJP central leadership did not think it wise to employ him (Narendra Modi) in Bihar. And there is no reason for the party to amend its strategy now,” he said.
Last week, state BJP president C.P. Thakur had announced that the party would invite the controversial Gujarat chief minister for the rally.
On Wednesday, he amended the stance a bit.
“We had said we would call him. But if Sushil Modi is saying this, we will sit together and discuss the matter,” Thakur told IANS.
Two BJP ministers in the Nitish Kumar government, Griraj Singh and Ashwani Kumar Choubey, are known Narendra Modi supporters.
The JD-U has been vocal in its opposition to Narendra Modi coming to the state. The BJP’s man in Bihar evokes strong reactions, particularly from the minorities, for his alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots in which almost 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. Though it has been 10 years since the riots, tensions continue in the state.
Nitish Kumar had earlier objected to his photographs with Narendra Modi in newspaper advertisements during the BJP national executive meeting in Patna in June 2010. Several JD-U leaders had demanded that the Gujarat chief minister should not campaign in the Bihar assembly polls.
Nitish Kumar has said it would not take a minute for his party to break ties with the BJP if the latter projected Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.