As country debated whether a hat-trick of assembly poll victories had inexorably catapulted Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to the position of the front-runner in the NDA prime ministerial nominee race, one man who had given him the thumbs down earlier was eloquent in his silence.
Till late afternoon on Friday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had not spoken a word on Modi's victory.
When reporters, on Friday morning, sought a reaction from Kumar on Modi's victory, he didn't comment and went ahead to attend an official function. He had declined to speak on the issue even on Thursday. "I'll call you separately for this issue", he said.
Earlier this year, Kumar had indicated in course of a TV interview that Modi, in his view, did not enjoy the right (secular) credentials to be the NDA's prime ministerial nominee. He, however, did not identify Modi by name.
When asked about Kumar's silence on Modi's victory, state BJP President C P Thakur told reporters he couldn't fathom why Kumar did not make a customary gesture of congratulating Modi, which was common in public life.
On Kumar's insistence, the BJP had kept Modi away from campaign in Bihar for both, the 2009 general election and the 2010 state assembly poll. Upset over the publication of an advertisement in newspapers about donation provided by Modi for Kosi flood victims of Bihar, Kumar had cancelled a dinner he had to host for BJP leaders during the BJP's national executive meeting at Patna in 2010.
While Kumar maintained a stoic silence on Friday, Bihar minority welfare minister Shahid Ali Khan said: "As for the victory of BJP in Gujarat, I congratulate all who have defeated Congress."
Even state JD (U) president Vashist Narayan Singh had stated that the BJP's victory in Gujarat "will strengthen the NDA at the national level", a magnanimous statement considering the JD (U) has contested the Gujarat poll separately and just retained the lone seat it had won in 2007. But state BJP leaders were euphoric.
"Left to myself, Modi should be BJP's prime ministerial candidate in 2014 Lok Sabha poll", said Thakur the Bihar BJP chief.
"I wish, Narendra bhai will lead the nation," said Bihar animal husbandry minister Giriraj Singh.
Even senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Modi, who, like Nitish, in May this year, had black-flagged Narendra Modi's credentials to be NDA's PM candidate, made a salutory reference to the Gujarat victory. "Narendra Modi's victory for the third consecutive term has proved beyond doubt that people do not ignore development", Sushil Modi told reporters.