| BJP national president Rajnath Singh with chief minister Nitish Kumar in Patna. Telegraph picture |
Patna, Jan. 23: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who maintained a studied silence at the third successive victory of his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi in the recent Assembly elections, was fulsome in praise for Rajanath Singh on the latter’s election as the BJP president today.
“Rajnathji is tape-tapaye (experienced) leader and he has been the BJP president in the past. In politics for a long time, he was a minister at the Centre and also the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. I congratulate him on becoming the BJP chief again,” Nitish told reporters. He said deciding on its president was the BJP’s “internal issue”.
Rajnath has been elected the BJP chief for a two-year term, which means that he would lead his party in the 2014 Lok Sabha Lok Sabha elections and also the 2015 Assembly polls in Bihar under the NDA rule. Congratulating Rajnath, Nitish sounded like singing in tune with his alliance partner (BJP) on the “controversial” remarks made by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on the radical Hindu outfits.
“If Shinde had evidence against certain outfits, he should have taken action. But instead of acting, he (Shinde) is issuing statements. This amounts to immaturity,” Nitish said, adding: “Such remarks send wrong messages in society. Shinde should keep in mind that he is the home minister besides being a Congress leader. Issuing statements and carrying out no action is an act of irresponsibility.”
The Bihar chief minister’s praise for Rajanth suggests an amicable relationship between the two leaders. Rajanth, too, was full of praise for Nitish when he had visited the state last on January 10, 2011.
The newly anointed BJP chief had attended Nitish Kumar’s janata durbar. “I have not seen any chief minister, including myself, in my living memory organising the janata darbur with so much of sensitivity,” Rajnath had said.
Deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi also Rajnath, hoping that the latter would strengthen the NDA. As a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Rajnath had efficiently and pragmatically ensured that the BJP’s alliances with its partners remained smooth, he said. “The NDA will be further expanded under Rajnath’s stewardship,” he added.
Insiders in the NDA believe that the elevation of Rajnath as the BJP chief will help “smoothen” the relationship between the party and the JD(U) in Bihar. Many leaders in Bihar would find it easy to connect to Rajnath — who hails from Uttar Pradesh unlike Nitin Gadkari, who had little connect with Bihar.
Recently, the BJP’s state unit replaced C.P. Thakur as its chief with Mangal Pandey. Sources said Pandey is believed to be the “right hand man” of Sushil Kumar Modi, who is known for his close proximity to Nitish and is a strong protagonist of the JD(U)-BJP alliance in Bihar.