In the first list of campaigners in Bihar sent by the Bharatiya Janata Party to the Election Commission, the names of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi are missing.

This comes as no surprise for, Janata Dal (United) leaders Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav have made it amply clear to their alliance partner that they do not want Mr. Modi to campaign in Bihar as that will affect the JD(U)'s credibility among Muslim voters.

On the face of it, the BJP publicly said that it was for the party to decide who it should send for its campaign, but in fact the party has continued the “old arrangement” of ‘no Modi' in the Bihar campaign.

40 names for two phases

A list of 40 names has been sent to the Commission for the first two phases of poll. All the top leaders — Nitin Gadkari, L.K. Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Shahnawaz Hussain and Ananth Kumar figure in the list.

When asked, a party leader pointed out that none of the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States had been included in this list.

There were several more phases of polling, for which the campaigners' lists had not yet been finalised, he said.

JD (U) stand

Leaders of the JD (U) have all along been hinting that privately Mr. Gadkari agreed to abide by its wish and not to send Mr. Modi or Mr. Varun Gandhi for campaigning — the Gujarat Chief Minister because of the 2002 riots in his State and the Pilibhit MP for his hate speech against Muslims during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in his constituency.