Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar last year attacked and criticised each during Bihar elections. Saturday was different: they appeared to go out of their way to be nice to each other.
The Prime Minister and Bihar chief minister’s show of warmth for each other became a talking point during Modi’s visit to the state on Saturday, belying the acrimony that marked their relations during the assembly polls campaign.
The two leaders appeared to go out of their way to be nice to each other during two programmes at which they shared the stage. On his first visit to Bihar after the formation of the Grand Alliance government, the PM exuded warmth towards the Bihar CM who responded in the same vein.
Not only were the two leaders cautious in their use of words so as to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of each other, they extended warm gestures towards each other.
When the two first shared the stage at the closing ceremony of the year-long centenary celebrations of the Patna high court, Nitish sounded uncharacteristically effusive in what sounded like an indirect compliment to Modi.
“India is now more capable. Its internal strength has increased. Its democracy is now stronger,” Nitish said, at a time when Modi’s critics have been accusing him of promoting intolerance and of trying to undermine democracy.
At a subsequent function in Hajipur, organised to launch and inaugurate different railway projects, the PM got up from his seat to ask people to stop chanting his name when Nitish was delivering his speech.
The two were seated next to each other at Hajipur, unlike at the Patna high court where state governor Ram Nath Kovind was seated next to the PM.
Nitish spoke of mutual cooperation. “The centre and state should work together and we are committed for a free and independent judiciary.”
Modi, for his part, talked of development of Bihar and eastern India.
Earlier, Kumar was present at the Patna airport to receive the PM, who was the face of the BJP’s election campaign in Bihar last year.
When the high court programme concluded, they posed for the cameras as Modi walked up to Nitish’s side and appeared to say something that had everyone on the stage smiling.
Nitish was the chief ministerial candidate and face of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance, which won 178 of the 243 seats in the state whereas the BJP-led NDA finished with 58.