For PM Modi’s Visit, Posters Omit Political Trophy Nitish Kumar
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Mod’s visit to Patna, the state capital is studded with huge hoardings. They feature the Prime Minister (in a music video-type effect, many iterations of him radiate out from a central image), and include a melange of other BJP leaders including party president Amit Shah, senior union minister Nitin Gadkari and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
The party’s new trophy- ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar – finds no space.
BJP leaders refuted talk of a deliberate slight to Mr Kumar, who, in July, cut his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress to establish a new government overnight with the BJP. “These are party posters put up by individuals,” said Nityanand Rai , the president of the BJP in Bihar.
However, the absence of the Chief Minister from the ensemble casts on different publicity material will allow rivals like the spurned Lalu Yadav to claim proof that just as they warned, Mr Kumar has been reduced to a bit player by the BJP after he served its purpose of coming to power in Bihar. “The BJP has shown him his place,” gloated Shivanand Tiwari, a leader from Lalu Yadav’s party.
In September, the cabinet reshuffle thwarted the expectation that Mr Kumar’s party would find representation in the union government because it had entered the BJP’s national alliance. When asked about being excluded, Mr Kumar at the time said “I have not got a phone call from the PM”. Sources in his party, the Janata Dal United, ceded that they had believed it would get the post of at least one cabinet minister.
The Chief Minister gets prominence on other publicity material issued by the centre for Bihar, said Sanjay Singh, spokesperson for Mr Kumar’s party. But privately, aides of Mr Kumar said that they had not expected him to be so completely overshadowed.
The trip will include a shared helicopter ride for the PM and the Chief Minister Mokama, 100 kms from Patna, where the PM will inaugurate nearly 5,000 crores worth of infrastructure projects including a major new bridge across the Ganga.
Mr Modi’s visit has caused heartburn to another colleague – Shatrugan Sinha, former actor, Patna MP and resident critic for the BJP. Mr Sinha has said he has been insulted because he has not been given any major role in the events tomorrow. “Is this how you treat your elected representative?” he asked, claiming that his omission is revenge for his frank talk about the shortcomings of his party and its leadership.