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Arch-rivals share NaMo moment

Ranchi/Delhi, May 26: If Narendra Modi’s swearing in saw a host a national and international leaders descending on New Delhi today, it also managed to bring together two Jharkhand rivals, one of whom was responsible for bringing down the BJP’s own government in the state.

Chief minister Hemant Soren and his predecessor whom he unseated, the BJP’s Arjun Munda, were among those invited from the state to be at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi to witness the historic occasion.

The significance of the occurrence wasn’t lost on either, but both sought to steer clear of political one-upmanship.

“Nothing should be read between the lines as I am only following protocol as an invitation (for this evening’s function) has been sent directly by Rashtrapati Bhavan,” a pragmatic Hemant told The Telegraph.

“I have been invited in the capacity of a chief minister and I have already congratulated Narendra Modi after BJP’s historic win. State government needs all the support from the Centre for speedy execution of projects,” he added.

Munda, who reached Delhi yesterday via Hyderabad (where he gone to attend a marriage function), dismissed suggestions of any bitterness.

“In politics there is no permanent friend or foe,” said the seasoned politician. Asked if he would be seated close to Hemant during the ceremony, the former chief minister said those were “small issues” in the vast world of politics.

“I do not know where I will sit or for that matter where other BJP MP’s and distinguished guests from Jharkhand will. But it is a big day for all of us,” he hastened to add earlier in the day.

Among the others from Jharkhand who attended the function were Governor Syed Ahmed, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs and several BJP leaders including state party chief Dineshanand Goswami, Sarayu Roy, Raghubar Das and former Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh.

In fact, there were many others who had reached the national capital but could not manage invites to the ceremony. They had to be content watching the live telecast of the ceremony on giant screens put up at BJP offices on Ashoka Road and G.B. Pant Marg.

“Narendrabhai Modi is coming to the Centre after having led his home state of Gujarat for so many years. So, he understands how crucial development of states is for a country to surge ahead economically and socially,” said Munda.

“I am sure he will give special attention to a backward state like Jharkhand that has always craved for good treatment by the Centre,” he added.

Would the former chief minister raise the issue of special status for Jharkhand any time now?

Munda indicated that the state BJP leadership wouldn’t do so right now. “First, we want the government to settle down. In some time, we will bring the petition before it,” he said.

Goswami was all praise for the unique initiative of inviting heads of SAARC nations. “It has shown how proactive this government is going to be. This is a very good gesture and will lay the foundation to concrete relationships India will have with these countries in time to come,” he added.