Nitish tells Modi to back off, stick to Gujarat

Two strongmen within the BJP-led NDA — Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi — were at loggerheads again on Monday. Mahesh Langa and Aloke Chatterjee reports. The CMs' war | Modi slams PM

india Updated: Jun 12, 2012 09:01 IST
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Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday hit back at Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and told him to mind his own business.

Kumar was responding to a question on Modi's recent observation that caste polititcs had stalled progress of states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Asserting that “Bihar has been the seat of knowledge since ancient times”, Kumar said, “He (Modi) should mind his own state. Everybody knows what has happened there. As for us, it's admitted there are problems, whether on the health front, economy or others. However, Bihar has come to grips with its own problems and it does not need advice from anyone”.

"We have overcome some problems and will address others. We have progressed despite all our limitations. Bihar cannot be put down. Those who tend to advice Bihar must mind their own backyard first", he added.

Modi and Nitish share a history of public spats. Nitish sees Modi as a liability because of his alleged role in the 2002 riots, while Modi sees Nitish as a rival who could block his rise to national politics.

It may be recalled that Nitish had not allowed Modi to campaign for BJP in Bihar in the last assembly polls.

On Sunday, while addressing the Gujarat BJP executive in Rajkot, Modi had said states like UP and Bihar lagged in development due to caste-based politics.

In 2010, Nitish had returned a Rs. 5-crore cheque from the Gujarat government for Kosi flood relief.

The decision was taken after local papers carried advertisements that featured Modi and Nitish shaking hands and bragged about the help by the Gujarat government, prior to the BJP national executive meeting in Patna in June 2010.

Criticising the Gujarat government’s claim of liberally donating to the flood victims, Nitish had even cancelled a dinner he was meant to host for BJP leaders as he didn’t want to be seen with Modi.

In Surat, where large number of Bihar migrant labours live, Modi praised Bihar without mentioning Nitish at a recent function to mark 100 years of Bihar.

After the function, when a BJP minister in the Bihar government remarked that Modi should be declared “NDA’s PM candidate”, Nitish’s party JD(U) objected strongly.

“We would like the BJP to clarify if it was his personal view or the party’s stand on Narendra Modi,” said spokesperson Sanjay Singh.

First Published: Jun 11, 2012 13:52 IST