The appearance of posters eulogising Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at places where Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has been visiting in the course of his ongoing ‘sewa yatra’ is proving to be a new irritant in the ties between the BJP and the JD(U).
The latest of these posters appeared in south Bihar district headquarters town of Gaya on Wednesday, just before the chief minister arrived there for the third leg of his yatra.
Placed strategically in and around the Gaya collectorate, where Kumar could not fail to notice them, the posters described Modi as the 'people's choice' to head the next government at the centre in 2014.
Credited to the 'Narendra Modi Vichar Manch', almost all of these posters, official sources confirmed, were removed ahead of the chief minister’s arrival on the venue.
Earlier, similar Modi posters had appeared when the chief minister was in Gopalganj in north western Bihar on May 2 and thereafter when he was in Sitamarhi, also in north Bihar, on the following two days.
"These posters are certainly provocative and appear to be put up by those who want the JD(U)-BJP alliance to break," JD(U) MP and national spokesman Shivanand Tiwari told HT on Wednesday.
The appearance of such posters, he said, went against the grain of the alliance. "There is a section in the BJP which wants the alliance to break while another section of the party wants it to continue," Tiwari said.
"It is not as if the party has not taken notice of this series of provocations. But sometimes it is better not to react to such pinpricks," the JD(U) leader said.
Bihar BJP president Mangal Pandey described the appearance of Modi posters as a spontaneous expression of party workers' sentiment. "Whether the JD(U) likes it or not, we cannot suppress such sentiments," he told HT on Wednesday.
The current round of the CM’s ‘sewa yatra’, aimed at checking the execution of his government’s welfare plans at the ground level, has largely been a JD(U) effort, with the BJP’s participation in the programmes being minimal.
This was largely the case with the previous round of Kumar’s ‘sewa yatra’ (Nov 2011-June 2012). What’s different this time is that the ties between the two parties have deteriorated, since the CM made critical references to Modi, without naming him, during the JD(U) national council meeting in New Delhi on April 13.
However, Shahid Ali Khan, Bihar minister for minorities affairs and JD(U) MLA from Sursand, who accompanied the CM during the Sitamarhi leg of his yatra, made light of the poster episode. "In Sitamarhi, the JD(U)-BJP ties are excellent," Khan said.
Sitamarhi MLA and tourism minister Sunil Kumar Pintu of the BJP, who hosted the CM for dinner at his Sitamarhi home on May 2, said no significance should be attached to the Modi posters.
"The CM was at my home for almost two hours. The visit was full of bonhomie," he told HT on Wednesday afternoon.