The Telegraph
Monday , April 8 , 2013
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SuMo’s turn now to test-drive NaMo

- Sushil Modi bats for BJP PM q Party doesn’t need any secular certificate: Shahnawaz

Patna, April 7: The unease in the ranks of the NDA partners in Bihar is showing signs of reaching the top.

Sushil Modi, who has for the duration of the alliance played Lakshman to Nitish Kumar’s Ram, has possibly for the first time openly indicated a shift in faultlines of state politics by saying the NDA’s Prime Minister for 2014 would be from the BJP.

The bitterness in the relationship between the allies was evident on Saturday at the state BJP meeting organised to mark the party’s foundation day. Addressing the gathering, a visibly agitated Sushil said the country would have a BJP Prime Minister after the 2014 polls.

“Alliances are formed among equals and not with weak parties. In Bihar, both the BJP and the JD(U) are aware of what their alliance partner wants. Nobody would become an ally of a weak party just for a couple of more seats.”

Till recently, the JD(U) dominated the state BJP. So dominating was the influence of Nitish on it that the name of Narendra Modi was virtually banned in it.

The party leaders hesitated to put up the posters of the Gujarat chief minister in public functions. Sushil did not even acknowledge his presence at the National Development Council meeting held in New Delhi last year.

Things have changed drastically now. Sushil is no more afraid of recalling his relationship with the Gujarat Modi. Cine star and BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha made the strain in relationship between Nitish, the modern day Ram, and Sushil, projected as Lakshman in 2005, obvious at the BJP meeting, saying: “We now have both ‘NaMo’ (Narendra Modi) and ‘SuMo’ (Sushil Modi).”

The line dividing the BJP hardliners — Giriraj Singh, C.P. Thakur and Shatrughan Sinha advocating Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate — and the softer ones headed by Sushil Kumar Modi and in favour of the continuation of the Dal-BJP alliance has practically been erased. “Some leaders are still saying there was no threat to the BJP-Dal alliance in Bihar, but it sounds more like a ritual than conviction,” said a BJP leader.

The BJP spokesperson, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, today said there was no threat to the party’s alliance with the JD(U). But he was quick to add that the BJP did not require certificate from anyone on secularism.

Some leaders of the JD(U) have virtually given up on the alliance. “It (Dal) is a one-man party. Nitish has to take the call. But I do not see him backing out from the stance he had taken on a secular prime ministerial candidate,” said a JD(U) MP, stressing that the ties could end the moment Naredra Modi comes to Bihar in the BJP rally in October this year.

Against this backdrop, political circles are abuzz with talks of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre becoming generous to Nitish before the Lok Sabha polls. Despite the chief minister’s repeated assertions that there was no political implications in his demand for according special status to Bihar and the Centre’s pledge to revisit the criteria of backwardness, political pundits believe there is more in it.

The vocal Congress leaders, who issued statements against Nitish in Patna, have suddenly become silent. “We have stopped issuing statements against Nitish because it would be embarrassing if our party high command forges alliance with him for the Lok Sabha polls,” said a senior Congress leader.

The new state Congress chief, Ashok Choudhary, told The Telegraph: “The issue of alliance would be decided by the central working committee. At present, I am concentrating on strengthening the organisation.”

The state Congress insiders, however, said the option of alliance was “open”. The fact that the Congress MLAs refused to be a part of a no-confidence motion moved by the RJD in the Assembly points towards the reluctance of the party to do anything against Nitish at this point of time.

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