Narendra Modi to showcase “development” in Bihar
The big show of strength planned by the Bharatiya Janata Party here on Sunday evening will carry a double message: it will mark the start of its all-out election campaign and also signal that the party is not just a “junior” partner in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Bihar enterprise.
It may also turn out to be the ‘coming out in Bihar' party for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been virtually kept out of election campaign in the State with due deference to the alliance partner, the Janata Dal (United).
The other significant aim of the rally being planned at the historic Gandhi maidan is to send out a clear message that the Congress was equally responsible for the disastrous years of the Rashtriya Janata Dal rule as it was a partner in the coalition government in the State in the last five years before the RJD was swept out.
The BJP seems wary of the sudden upswing of Congress electoral fortunes in Uttar Pradesh on the back of a ‘swing' of Muslim and “upper caste” votes towards it and is hoping to prevent that here by blaming the Congress equally for the “misrule” by the RJD.
“The 15 years of RJD rule in this State was propped up by the Congress. It was RJD plus Congress raj,” Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said here on Friday, a day before the start of the party's two-day national executive committee meeting, which will end with the rally.
Development is the ‘mantra' that the party has adopted and the speakers lined up for the public meetings have apparently been told not to stray from this line. Significantly, Mr. Narendra Modi has been chosen to showcase “development” in Bihar. “Party president Nitin Gadkari, senior leader L.K. Advani and Mr. Narendra Modi will certainly be three key speakers at the rally,” Mr. Sushil Modi said. Mr. Kumar had never directly or indirectly interfered in BJP's internal affairs and the two-decade-old alliance was a “model” for coalition governments, he added.
A senior BJP leader said the Gujarat Chief Minister was “most qualified” as he himself had shown the road to development in his State. Over the last couple of days full page advertisements have appeared in some local newspapers here on the better status of Muslims in Gujarat compared to some other regions — the statistics were sourced to the Sachar Committee report.
There would be nothing exceptional in the decision to field Mr. Narendra Modi except that for some days now senior party leaders had hinted that the Gujarat Chief Minister would not be a speaker as “normally Chief Ministers of other States, other than where the party conclave takes place, do not address the public meetings.”
A party leader here said the BJP wanted to send out a message to the JD(U) that it was its own master and would take its own decisions. It wants to dispel the impression that in each election the BJP decides to keep Mr. Narendra Modi out of the Bihar campaign for fear of annoying the JD(U).
Mr. Narendra Modi is also to be fielded by the party as the key speaker for the third resolution — on the alleged step-motherly treatment meted out to non-UPA States by the Manmohan Singh government — that the party conclave is expected to adopt.