After an interruption that was loaded with meaning, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Friday rejoined CM Nitish Kumar during the latter’s election campaign Vishwas Yatra.
Relations between the BJP and Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) were strained because the chief minister returned Rs 5 crore to the BJP-run Gujarat government, which offered the money for victims of the Kosi floods in 2008.
Kumar was indignant at advertisements flaunting the Gujarat government’s generosity towards Bihar, which appeared in the media in his state during the last BJP national executive meeting in Patna a fortnight ago.
On Friday, Kumar and Modi arrived at Patna airport in separate vehicles.
After exchanging pleasantries, they boarded the same helicopter for Aurangabad district but refused to take questions on the strain in the ruling alliance.
“Bihar is neither covered by Article 370 (which accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir), nor do Indians need a visa to visit Bihar,” BJP spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said, commenting on Kumar’s insistence that Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and the BJP’s Lok Sabha MP Varun Gandhi be kept out of the poll campaign in Bihar.
Muslims comprise 17 per cent of the electorate in Bihar, where the assembly polls will be held this year.
“Whether or not (Sushil) Modi should join the Vishwas Yatra was neither discussed during party leaders’ meeting with BJP President Nitin Gadkari nor was any instruction issued to Modi to boycott it,” Hussain said.