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Modi Gaya rally put off

Patna/New Delhi, March 6: The BJP today called off Narendra Modi’s March 14 rally in Gaya ostensibly because of the rush of work following the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls.

“The party has postponed the Gaya rally which was to be organised on March 14. The rally would now be organised later, sometime during electioneering. We had anticipated that the poll schedule would be announced after March 15, but it was declared much earlier than anticipated,” leader of Opposition in the Assembly Nand Kishore Yadav said.

However, Modi’s rally at Purnea on March 10 will be held as scheduled. Nand Kishore, a former minister in the erstwhile NDA government, said since Gaya and its two neighbouring constituencies — Aurangabad and Nawada — would go to polls in the first phase on April 10, it would be difficult to organise the March 14 rally in the given scenario.

“The nomination process starts from March 13 in Gaya region. People would be busy in filing nominations and electioneering at the local level so it was considered prudent to postpone the rally,” he said.

However, the deferment of the rally has also given ground to whispers that the decision was prompted by the growing unrest in the state BJP over the alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. At Modi’s rally in Muzaffarpur on March 3, a clutch of state leaders such as CP Thakur and Ashwani Choubey were conspicuous by their absence.

The BJP brass was quick to rebut any such perception. Asked if Modi’s Gaya rally was put off because of a creeping resentment in the Bihar BJP against the recent alliances with Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha, general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “No, it has nothing to do with any such speculation, that is baseless. The election schedule has been announced, the first phase in Bihar is on April 10. We have to rework our strategies because seats have to be finalised quickly. So it is difficult for the state unit to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. The priority is candidate selection.”

But sources said that wasn’t the only reason. There was a feeling in the Bihar BJP that those who carried the baton for Modi for the last two years were being “sidelined” by state leaders, who, it was alleged, were still “primarily loyal” to chief minister Nitish Kumar. Sources alleged that the pro-Modi votaries such as Giriraj Singh, CP Thakur, Rameshwar Chaurasia and Ashwani Choubey were “passed over” as Lok Sabha poll candidates in “favour” of later entrants or Paswan-Kushwaha’s nominees. “At this rate, our workers will be so angry that there will be nobody left to cheer for Modiji when he comes campaigning,” a source claimed.

However, the more neutral voices said there were a handful of “perennially disgruntled” souls in the Bihar BJP who raised “non-issues” at a time when the party ought to focus exclusively on “making Modi the PM by bringing in seats”.

“There is no resentment against anyone in the central or state hierarchy because things are looking good for the BJP and for Modi,” said a Lok Sabha MP.