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After Modi vs Rahul, BJP braces for a bigger Modi vs Nitish tussle too?

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 29, 2013
First Published: 21:21 IST(29/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:08 IST(1/11/2013)

In addition to the ongoing Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi battle, an emerging Modi-Nitish Kumar duel held promise to eclipse any other political tussle in the run-up to the 2014 polls.

As Nitish Kumar picked holes in Modi's speeches and even compared him to Hitler at his party's rally at Rajgir on Tuesday, top BJP leaders charged him with hobnobbing with the Congress to become prime minister.

They accused him of playing the vote-bank politics, which they said, had a bearing on events leading to the Sunday blast at Patna's Gandhi Maidan -- the venue of Gujarat chief minister's foray into Bihar.

Five people were killed and scores were wounded in the blasts, which took place before Modi arrived and spoke at the BJP's biggest show of strength on Sunday.

Not to take anything lying down, the Bihar chief minister on Tuesday revealed his strategy. He asserted his version of development to counter Modi's USP on education, health and food.

As a counter, BJP strategists did not rule out the possibility of Modi snipping at Nitish Kumar even more in the days ahead, with, perhaps, Rahul Gandhi may be taking even a backseat in the Gujarat chief minister's scheme of things.

In the backdrop of the blasts at Patna's Gandhi Maidan and Nitish Kumar's counter-offensive, the BJP deputed its senior leaders across the country to criticise the Nitish Kumar government for inadequate security in the state.

They held press conferences in 23 cities to highlight the Patna blasts, accusing the JD(U) government in Bihar of complete laxity on the security front, just to get nearer to the Congress.

BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged Nitish Kumar's JD(U) was B-team of the Congress. "The two parties are speaking in the same tone and their arrogance can be seen," he  said. In Patna, BJP's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravishankar Prasad said, "the terror threat to national security has become a national issue...It's time to take it very seriously."

In Bangalore, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar charged the Nitish Kumar government with indulging in "vote bank politics." He said it refused to arrest and quizz Indian Mujaheedin chief Yasin Bhatkall him on terror modules.

In Kolkata, BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain said, "Nitish Kumar broke up with the BJP and joined hands with the Congress, hoping to become prime minister...The Centre had alerted Bihar beforehand about the possibility of an attack during the rally. Why did he ignore it? Modi could have died. It is a criminal negligence on the part of the state government. BJP is the only party which brings hope for the people of Bihar."

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