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Choubey heaps praise on Nitish
- Subdued colleague and zealous residents greet chief minister at Seva Yatra

Patna, May 31: Bihar health minister Ashwini Choubey had earlier this month shared a dais with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, singing paeans to him and even urging the latter to take over the reigns of the country’s leadership.

On the last day of the month today, Choubey greeted his chief minister, Nitish Kumar, on the latter’s Seva Yatra in Bhagalpur — also an Assembly seat that the BJP minister represents in the House — and again broke into paeans, this time to Nitish.

“Nitishji represents susashan (good governance) and development of the state. His yatra in Bhagalpur has raised the hope for the revival of the sick sugar industries and overall prosperity in the district. I am with him all through,” Choubey, who was accompanying Nitish, told The Telegraph over phone.

The health minister going “overboard” on Narendra Modi — Nitish’s rival in the undeclared war for the national prize on May 6 during a Bihar Divas celebration in Surat, Gujarat — had aggravated the differences between the JD(U) and the BJP. Nitish called a meeting of the NDA leaders, including deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and NDA convenor Nand Kishore Yadav, to sternly drive home the message that the “ministers — be it from the BJP or the JD(U) — should concentrate on the work they have been assigned to do rather than saying or doing something that creates bad blood in the ruling alliance”. The result of Nitish’s “tough talks” at the NDA’s meeting during a four-hour dinner on Monday was quite visible today in Choubey’s comment.

The health minister — known to be a strong adherent of the party’s Hindutva philosophy — accompanied Nitish to Shahjangi Mazar and a Jain temple in the city.

“I will accompany Nitishji throughout his three-day Seva Yatra in Bhagalpur. Nitishji is a vikas purush (epitome of development) and has won the people’s hearts by good work. We are happy to be in the team of a successful chief minister who works relentlessly for the betterment of the state,” Choubey said.

His remarks must have come as music to Nitish’s ears in view of the fact that the former had invariably “defied” him (Nitish) by skipping his janata darbar, speaking in favour of Narendra Modi or announcing something that has often embarrassed the government.

Today, Choubey’s feet were firmly on the ground. “Our government under Nitishji’s stewardship is doing a commendable job.”

Bhagalpur — the venue of the worst-ever riot in India in 1989 — has been politically significant for Nitish. Soon after assuming charge of the chief minister’s office in 2005, the first thing Nitish did was to open the cases against the rioters and ensured their conviction by expediting the trial system.

Nitish then went on to pay life-long pension to the victims’ relatives on the lines of the riots against the Sikhs in Delhi and revive the weaving the industry that had gone moribund in the wake of the communal conflagrations.

These measures had, apparently, enabled him to make inroads into the Muslim vote bank, which was considered a stronghold of Lalu Prasad till Nitish’s ascendance on the state’s scene.


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