President Pranab Mukherjee has cut short his Bihar visit by a day, possibly to avoid a clash with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s ‘Hunkar’ rally on October 27.
The President was scheduled to attend the convocation of IIT, Patna on October 26 and unveil a statue of Babu Jagjivan Ram at his native Chandwa village near Ara in central Bihar on October 27.
Rashtrapati Bhavan has stated that the President had cancelled the October 27 programme as per a request of the organisers.
Earlier in the day, BJP MPs from Bihar Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shahnawaz Hussain met Mukherjee ostensibly to request him to avoid a clash with Modi’s rally.
"The President told us that he will visit Bihar on October 26 to attend convocation but will return to New Delhi the same day. BJP leaders would be there in Patna to welcome him," Hussain said.
Expressing his gratitude to the President for rescheduling the programme, Rudy said the party leaders were concerned about the earlier scheduled of Mukherjee.
"The President informed us that he will be in Patna on October 26 only for two hours. He will reach the convocation venue from Patna airport and then return to Delhi. We are profoundly grateful to the President,” he added.
The clash between the President's visit and Modi's rally had become a contentious issue with the BJP holding its former ally JD (U) responsible for this. State BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had alleged that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had accepted the President's visit on October 27 to scuttle Modi’s rally.
He had said the CM was duty-bound to apprise the President of the scheduled political event during his visit. "The whole city would be barricaded for the President's visit and Modi's plane will not be allowed to land till President's plane takes off. Moreover, the stream of people expected to reach Patna for the rally will inconvenience the President," he had said.
Kumar, however, struck back, saying his office had nothing to do with the President's visit. "The visit was finalised by the President's office and our only responsibility is to arrange security, as per protocol," he had said.
The President’s office had approved the programme on a request sent to him by IIT authorities nearly two months ago. The Chandwa programme was clubbed with the visit as per a request from Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.