Citing pressing engagements elsewhere, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has said he would not visit Gujarat to campaign for the JD(U) in the coming assembly polls.
“I’m busy with the party’s ‘adhikar rally’ in Patna on November 4. After that, I have to go to Pakistan for a week-long goodwill visit (beginning November 9)”, Kumar told reporters on Friday.
The winter session of the Bihar assembly would begin from November 29. “Besides, I’ll be busy preparing the annual report card of my government, which is to be issued in December,” he added.
The move is being widely seen as an attempt on Kumar’s part not to sour his relations further with alliance partner BJP in general and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in particular.
Kumar had red-flagged Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate in the next parliamentary polls, which led to friction with the BJP. Moreover, his comments about supporting anyone who gives Bihar special category status raised fears that the BJP-JD(U) alliance could be in jeopardy.
The BJP appears mollified. “That Nitishji will not be campaigning against BJP nominees in Gujarat is a goodwill gesture on his part, which is highly appreciated,” Bihar BJP chief CP Thakur said on Saturday.
Kumar had persuaded the BJP leadership against deploying Modi to campaign in Bihar ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the 2010 assembly elections. Political analysts had said the move was an outcome of Kumar’s fear that Modi’s presence might lose him Muslim votes.