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Nitish hand of courtesy to Modi

Patna, May 21: It isn’t quite a personal letter or a phone call, but Nitish Kumar has extended a hand of courtesy by congratulating Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi on a social networking site.

The greeting came as a postscript to a message Nitish posted this evening on his Facebook page addressed to “Mere Priya Biharwasio” (My dear residents of Bihar) in which he has sought to explain the reasons for his resignation as chief minister. The message ends with Nitish declaring that on the day the results were announced, he had expressed his respect for the fresh mandate.

Then came the postscript.

“I would like to extend my congratulations and best wishes to Sri Narendra Modi for his victory and for being nominated Prime Minister,” Nitish wrote in the post.

Nitish is one of the few non-BJP leaders to have congratulated Modi on his victory.

AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa was the first to do so when on May 17 she wrote a letter to Modi, saying: “I congratulate you on the magnificent victory in the 16th Lok Sabha elections. I wish you and the government under your stewardship the very best.” Modi reciprocated the next day with a phone call to the Tamil Nadu chief minister, congratulating her on her “magnificent victory”.

But neither West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee nor Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, the two other leaders who stymied the Modi wave in their respective states, has so far greeted the Prime Minister-designate.

Nitish’s post has triggered off speculation that the two would be more civil to each other now that Modi is set to become India’s Prime Minister on May 26. However, a JD(U) minister, who did not wish to be named, declared that to the best of his knowledge, no invitation has been extended to either Nitish or the Bihar government to participate in the swearing-in at Rashtrapati Bhavan. “Why should we go? There is no change in our stand that Narendra Modi stands for communalism,” the minister stressed.

Modi had yesterday tweeted his congratulations to Jitan Ram Manjhi after he took oath as the chief minister of Bihar.

During this year’s Lok Sabha campaign, Modi addressed public meetings at 26 of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies. He took regular digs at Nitish, calling him autocratic and alleging that his government was promoting terrorists. Nitish repaid the compliment by reminding people of the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat and questioning the Gujarat model. But in all this, the two never named the other. It remains to be seen now if Modi replies to Nitish’s greetings.


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