Nearly 10 years ago, the then Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the first BJP leader to assume office, addressed his first public rally at Srinagar in April 2003. He was seated next to the then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The camaraderie between the two leaders and the rapport between Vajpayee and the crowd was noticeable.
On Friday, Narendra Modi, the second BJP leader to become Prime Minister, visited the state for the first time after assuming office. Modi was seated next to chief minister Omar Abdullah. However, the absence of camaraderie between the two was apparent. Abdullah, who had exhibited a cold attitude on the dais, tried to stay as much away from the Prime Minister as possible. He had also excused himself from the lunch hosted by the governor for Modi, as he had reportedly begun fasting for Ramzan.
Was Abdullah really not at ease with Modi's presence or was it a political gimmick? Political observers feel Abdullah did not want to send out a message to his constituency that he was sharing a comfortable personal equation with Modi, who is often associated with the 2002 Gujarat riots. He had often derided Modi, accusing him of being a divisive political figure.
Political pundits say his gestures during Modi's visit was an attempt to send out a message that he has not changed his views on Narendra Modi, even though Modi has assumed the highest political office in the country.