| CP Thakur, Sushil Modi |
Patna, Oct. 10: State BJP president C.P. Thakur today appeared to have softened his line on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, saying the list of invitees for the party’s Hunkar Rally on April 15 next year would be decided by the central leadership.
“The party’s central leadership at its meeting will decide on the invitees at the rally,” Thakur told reporters. “We are preparing for the rally. We will make a list of invitees. The party’s core leadership will finally decide on who will eventually attend it.”
The state BJP president’s climbdown follows deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi’s denial that Narendra Modi, the bete noire of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, had been invited to attend the April rally. Sushil Modi, in an interview with The Telegraph published on Wednesday, asserted that “more than Nitish Kumar, the BJP central leadership had decided not to engage Narendra Modi” in Bihar.
Gujarat’s Modi and Nitish are locked in an unstated competition for the top political prize after the next general elections. Nitish has said the next prime ministerial candidate has to be a “secular” candidate, a stand that Sushil Modi appeared to endorse during his interview when he said that the country has to have a “liberal” and “accommodative” face for the post.
Bihar BJP chief Thakur had sparked off the current tensions by announcing a few days ago that Narendra Modi had been invited for the Hunkar Rally. Thakur had also declared, unilaterally, that the BJP was preparing itself to contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the next general elections. The JD(U) responded by saying it too was prepared to fight alone.
Thakur today put the onus for the rally invitees on the central leadership, like Sushil Modi, who, too, has asserted that the top brass of the party would decide on whom to call. “I had never spoken about a particular leader. I had simply stated that as per formality, invitations will be sent to all BJP chief ministers, state party presidents and central party leaders. I still stick to that. But it is the central leadership that will take a final call on the issue at an appropriate time,” the state BJP chief said, while hastening to add that “Narendra Modi is a respected party leader”.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Modi sought to play down talks of a rift between the Bihar allies by saying that no BJP leader had ever stated that the party would contest all 40 seats. “The BJP and JD(U) are operating in alliance in the state and as such no ally can unilaterally announce it would contest all the 40 seats,” he said.