New Delhi: Will he, won't he?
The war between partners BJP and Janata Dal United JD(U) on Narendra Modi seems to have reached a flashpoint. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has now made clear his stand remains unchanged - Modi cannot campaign in Bihar.
Speaking in Delhi, the Bihar CM said any debate over whether the Gujarat CM and the BJP's star campaigner Modi would campaign in his state was an internal matter of the BJP.
The BJP has been for months trying to persuade its Bihar ally that it is important that Modi campaign for the state polls. It seems to have failed in its attempts for now.
No Love Lost
For much part of this year, the friction between the two CMs has been palpable. At the core is Nitish's unwillingness to share the political stage with Modi. Nitish has carefully cultivated a secular image despite his party's long-standing association with the BJP, and he does not want Modi's less than secular image to affect that.
Nitish, thus, has gone out his way to snub Modi, who is not one to take the slight lying low.
In June, advertisements splashed in Patna papers during the BJP's national executive meet in Patna, showing Narendra Modi holding hands with Nitish Kumar, upset the Bihar CM, who promptly cancelled a dinner for BJP leaders. (Read:After ad row, Nitish cancels dinner for BJP leaders)
Nitish then returned a Rs 5 crore cheque from the Gujarat government for Kosi flood relief. The money was returned after local papers carried advertisements of how the BJP helped out with flood relief in Bihar, which Nitish Kumar felt was politicising the matter. (Bihar returns Gujarat's Kosi aid)
The rejection of Modi's aid did not go down well with the BJP leadership. And in return, the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and BJP leader Sushil Modi said he would cancel his tour with the Chief Minister. Senior BJP leaders like Yashwant Singh chided Nitish for "acting like a child."
Matters were brought back from the brink by leaders of both parties confabulating and issuing statements that all was well. Just months before the Bihar elections.