At the Patna Book Fair on Saturday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did not seem to mind adding colour to a lotus drawn by an artist. In yet another sign of thaw in relations, Nitish painted the lotus — party symbol of the Bharatiya Janta Party — in saffron. Speaking to news agency ANI, BJP MP Giriraj Singh said that Nitish was painting his “political ambitions” and wants to show RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav that he is independent. “Wo (Nitish) apni ranjinitk rang bhar rahe thay, Laluji ko baar baar wo zaroor dikhaate rehte hain ki main swatantra hun,” he said.
The growing bonhomie between Nitish and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also being seen as a move to put alliance partner RJD in check. After a bitterly-fought 2015 Bihar elections, the two leaders first shared stage at a function in Hajipur in March 2016. Nitish limited his speech to praising the Modi government’s cooperation and invited the Prime Minister to visit Bihar over and over again, which left everyone guessing. On his part, Modi addressed Nitish as a ‘mitra’.
When all Opposition parties, including the JD(U)’s alliance partners Congress and RJD, rallied against demonetisation, Nitish chose to praise the Prime Minister and support the move. Nitish said the move to withdraw high-value currencies would help in curbing corruption and flush out black money. He also demanded a strong legislation to track benami property transactions.
Little over a month after Nitish endorsed demonetisation, PM Modi praised the Bihar Chief Minister for imposing prohibition in the state and the arrangements put in place for celebrating the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. “I want to congratulate Nitish Kumar for his strong move on prohibition despite objections from all quarters. It is a courageous step.”