Cancels dinner for BJP leaders

It was a no-holds barred attack here on Saturday by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on what he described as the “unethical and uncultured” manner in which his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi had been advocating his “model of development” and recommending it for emulation in Bihar.

The last straw was a full-page advertisement of the two Chief Ministers holding hands aloft that appeared in more than one newspaper here on Saturday — a cutout from an NDA rally photograph taken in Punjab ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

Mr. Kumar said it was “totally unethical” on the part of the advertisement agency to use his photograph without his permission, consent or even knowledge.

He said he would take “legal action” and reports indicated raids were being conducted on the agency's offices.

In “our culture,” it is considered “uncivilised” to “tom-tom any help given to a person,” Mr. Kumar added, pointing to the ad-text that said Gujarat helped Bihar after the 2008 Kosi floods. Did not Gujarat receive help from many States when it was hit by an earthquake in Bhuj? Had any State advertised in Gujarati newspapers boasting of the help given? Mr. Kumar said he would return to Gujarat Rs. 5 crore sent by it at that time. “It was peanuts, they can have it back.”

The immediate fallout of this episode was the cancellation of a dinner Mr. Kumar was to host for all BJP national executive committee members, including Mr. Modi. After Mr. Kumar's frank Modispeak, the BJP decided to politely convey to the Chief Minister that its leaders would be too busy with their conclave agenda to spare time for the dinner. And, in fact, Mr. Kumar had not sent the formal dinner invitation letters.

The BJP's stand was that the advertisements were placed by some individuals, an argument the JD (U) rejected saying they were acting as proxy for Mr. Modi and his government.

The BJP is determined to see that Mr. Modi address Sunday's rally as planned.