MARKING a full circle from the time he had refused to share stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Wednesday sought votes in his name. With his vikas plank not cutting ice with voters, Nitish devoted his speech here to works undertaken by the Centre in Bihar and said Modi would ensure the state was developed if the NDA was voted back to power.
Praising Modi profusely and thanking him for “taking time out” to campaign, Nitish said, “Listen to his appeal. If you give the NDA one more chance, then you can be sure he will transform the state. Bihar will march ahead.” The CM referred to Patna Metro, Smart Cities plan, the Ujjwala scheme and roads in Bihar while applauding the PM’s “generosity”.
Amid slogans of “Modi, Modi” from the crowd, Nitish said people had come to the rally to listen only to Modi, and said his efforts in controlling the Covid-19 were “exceptional”. After Nitish’s speech, Modi was invited to speak, with introduction as “Yug Purush”.
While the NDA’s victory in 39 out of 40 seats in 2019 was largely credited to the Modi factor, it is the first time in an Assembly poll that the CM is seeking votes in the PM’s name.
Earlier in the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2010 Assembly polls, when he was the Gujarat CM, Modi had kept out of Bihar during NDA campaigns reportedly at Nitish’s behest. At a 2010 public meeting Nitish had said, “When there is Sushil Modi in Bihar, there is no need of another Modi (Narendra) here.” He had even cancelled a scheduled NDA dinner in 2010 in Patna over Modi’s presence.
Nitish’s discomfort with Modi was attributed to the 2002 Gujarat riots, though the JD(U) leader himself had been part of the NDA government at the Centre at the time.
Nitish parted ways with the NDA in 2013. He fought 2015 polls as part of Mahagathbandhan. During that time, he had called for a “Sangh-mukt” Bharat.
In the last few days, across Bihar, the BJP has put up prominent posters with PM’s photograph underlining the party’s promise of jobs, which has emerged as a big poll issue.