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With high praise for Nitish, PM Modi signals all is well in Bihar NDA

Narendra Modi says Bihar CM in league of great leaders produced by state; NDA ties only getting stronger: JD(U).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar upon his arrival at Jai Prakash Narayan Airport, in Patna, July 12, 2022. (PTI)

If Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s two recent visits to Patna to meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were part of an effort to clear recent misgivings between the BJP and the Janata Dal (United), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praise for Kumar at the concluding ceremony of the Bihar Legislative Assembly’s centenary celebrations in Patna on Tuesday is being seen by political observers as a message that all is indeed well between the allies and their differences are now a thing of the past.

Following the tension between the allies over a number of hot-button issues, Pradhan made visits in quick succession to Patna last month to meet Kumar and, during one of the trips, he called the Bihar CM the leader of the NDA in Bihar. Before Pradhan’s visit, Modi had called Kumar to discuss the nomination of former Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu as the NDA’s presidential poll candidate.

Signs that the allies were over the rough patch were apparent on Tuesday when Modi and Kumar shared the stage at the Assembly centenary event. The PM told the audience that he believed in “cooperation and coexistence” and that one should move forward taking along people and “listen to their views”. In a speech laced with quotes from the Vedas, the PM spoke on the tenets of democracy, cooperation, and camaraderie, and added that the country would progress if Bihar did. Modi lauded Kumar for ensuring 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayats and said the CM belongs to a pantheon of great Bihar leaders such as former CMs Dr Srikrishna Singh and Karpoori Thakur, and Jayaprakash Narayan. Kumar has eclipsed Singh’s record to become the state’s longest-serving CM.

Speaking about the rich history of the Bihar Assembly, Modi pointed out that it enacted the Bihar Abolition of Zamindaris Act after Independence. The PM also said that his government had so far changed or amended about 1,500 archaic laws “which created problems for the common people”.

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In comparison, Nitish Kumar’s speech was more understated and he did not highlight the work done by this government. With his call for central status for Patna University having not been heeded, the CM did not put forward any demand before the Centre at the event. Kumar expressed happiness about Modi’s visit and said it would always be remembered as he had become the first prime minister to visit the Bihar legislature campus.

Modi’s praise for the CM went down well with the JD(U). The party’s national spokesperson KC Tyagi told The Indian Express, “NDA ties are only getting stronger. The fact that the PM mentioned Nitish Kumar in the league of big Bihar leaders, including Dr Srikrishna Singh, Jayaprakash Narayan, and Karpoori Thakur says a lot about our leader’s high credentials. Our rank and file are very happy with PM’s praise for Nitish Kumar. Earlier, PM praised Nitish Kumar for opposing dynastic rule as did Dr Rammanohar Lohia and George Fernandes. The PM’s visit has put to rest all rumours about fissures in Bihar NDA.”

Tejashwi’s fumbles

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav’s poor speech delivery caught the attention of those present at the event. Known as a good speaker who makes extempore speeches both in the Assembly and outside, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader seemed nervous and fumbled while addressing the gathering.

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Tejashwi demanded Bharat Ratna for Karpoori Thakur, a socialist icon, and spoke of the need for a centre of legislative study. Several party insiders privately conceded that Tejashwi had let them down with an “under-rehearsed and under-prepared” speech at the important programme.

First published on: 13-07-2022 at 06:08:11 pm
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