Punjab polls: Congress piqued by Nitish’s silence on Captain’s invite for campaigning | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Punjab polls: Congress piqued by Nitish’s silence on Captain’s invite for campaigning

The growing bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seems to have upset the Congress’ calculations in poll-bound Punjab.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2017 16:20 IST
Subhash Pathak
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh had invited Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to campaign in poll-bound Punjab during his visit to Patna on Parkash Parv.
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh had invited Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to campaign in poll-bound Punjab during his visit to Patna on Parkash Parv. (PTI File Photo)

The growing bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seems to have upset the Congress’ calculations in poll-bound Punjab.

At the just concluded 350th Parkash Utsav here, Sikh devotees from Punjab and other states were all praise for Kumar for his ‘’excellent’’ arrangement. However, Nitish’s silence on Congress chief ministerial candidate Captain Amarinder Singh’s invite to him to campaign in poll-bound Punjab continues to baffle local leaders.

Capt, who attended the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh at Patna Sahib, had praised Nitish for the success of the grand function and invited him to campaign for the party in Punjab, where elections are slated next month.

“The party could definitely benefit from the Bihar CM’s visit to Punjab in view of the state’s role in Parkash Utsav. However, it should not be taken as if the credit for the successful celebration went to Nitish only. He is leader of the Grand Alliance (GA), which also comprises the RJD and Congress,” said Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief and education minister Ashok Choudhary.

Party insiders felt that it would not be surprising if Nitish Kumar declines to visit Punjab in view of his ‘changing’ attitude towards Modi. “Recently he lauded the Centre’s decision on demonetisation and later on its ordinance making possession of scrapped currency notes an offence,” they added.

The JD(U)’s inordinate delay in revisiting the demonetisation issue as promised by Kumar is another reason that has kept the Congress leaders guessing.

Kumar had promised to review the party’s stand on demonetisation after the PM’s 50-day deadline expired on December 30. However, the JD(U) is still to review it. Prompt support to the Centre on GST and surgical strikes by Kumar too did not go down well with the Congress.

Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Akhilesh Singh said the party would not have needed Kumar’s support had it made a concerted effort to cash in on the Parkash Utsav. “The party has failed to utilise the opportunity offered by Parkash Utsav to woo visitors from Punjab,”said Singh.

Singh’s assertion hinted at the absence of any senior party leader during the PM’s visit to Tent City, the makeshift gurdwara for Prakash Utsav.

While senior GA leaders like Lalu Prasad and deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav attended the function, Congress leaders were conspicuous by their absence.