If Narendra Modi's foray into Bihar had gone off without the bloody blasts at his rally that claimed at least six lives, the initial Modi versus Rahul Gandhi battle would still be making headlines.
BJP's prime minister candidate Narendra Modi consoles the family members of Rajnarain Singh, a victim of the recent serial bomb blasts, in Patna. (PTI Photo)
But with Nitish Kumar picking up the gauntlet in response to Modi's barrage, an emerging Modi-Nitish Kumar duel holds great promise.
It may even eclipse any other political tussle in the run-up to the 2014 polls if current levels of engagement are any indication, BJP and Janata Dal (United) leaders say.
The reason: Bihar's 40 parliamentary seats are crucial for Modi's plans to win the polls, along with Uttar Pradesh's 80 seats.
Modi cannot let go any opportunity to boost the mood of his party cadres in the run-up to the polls.
Kumar too won't drop his sword either as the stakes are higher for him too. Not just the 2014 polls, he faces the state elections in 2015.
Right from day one, not only Kumar has picked holes in Modi's speeches and even compared him to Hitler, he turned an anti-BJP and supposedly anti-Congress convention against communalism even into a front against Modi, say JD(U) leaders.
On Saturday, Modi's helicopter hop to four villages to comfort the families of the victims of the blasts was in tune of the latest strategy of BJP to keep up the momentum, which the party leaders claim, is now working against Kumar.
A day after the blasts, the BJP deputed its senior leaders to criticise Kumar.
They held press conferences in 23 cities to highlight the Patna blasts, accusing the JD(U) of complete laxity on the security front, because Kumar wanted to get nearer to the Congress.
Kumar sought to make light of the challenge from Modi. "People have purchased brooms in large quantity to clean the muck coming from outside as well inside the state," he said to cheer up his men.
VIDEO: Modi's Bihar visit reflects his double standards: Cong
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