BJP on a high: Prez cuts short Bihar visit

Nitish had kept Modi away from visiting Bihar for any public rally in the last eight years.

Somehow, the Bhartiya Janata Party is able to taste success in whatever big-small ways it can now a days. The recent will be a virtual war created by it against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on President Pranab Mukherjee’s scheduled two-day visit to the state this month.

Mukherjee was to visit Bihar on October 26 for a convocation ceremony. He was invited by the CM on October 27 for a government function.

The date clashed with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s ‘Hunkar Rally’ in Patna.

Presence of Mukherjee meant high security in the region which would have meddled with BJP’s plans. Also, there was no ground available for Modi after President’s function was given preference.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain and party vice-president Rajiv Pratap Rudy, both from Bihar, met President today regarding his visit. After the meeting, they informed the media that the President has cut short a two-day visit to Patna, and will now be in the Bihar capital only on Oct 26.

“It was a courtesy call since he is coming to Bihar and our rally is on the 27th (Oct 27). The President has now cancelled his night halt and will return to the national capital on the same day (Oct 26),” Hussain said.

“BJP leaders will be there in Patna on October 26 to welcome President Pranab Mukherjee. It is honour for Bihar to welcome the President on one day and the future Prime Minister of India the next day,” Rudy added.

The president’s press secretary, Venu Rajamony, however, said the visit was cut short as the event he was scheduled to attend Oct 27 was cancelled.

“The president will give a lecture at IIT Patna Oct 26. After the function, he will come back the same day. He was invited for a function Oct 27, but that was postponed a long time back,” Rajamony told IANS.

The President was to unveil the statue of late Jagjivan Ram Oct 27.

Earlier, BJP had alleged that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had deliberately invited the President on October 27 as well to scuttle the party rally. BJP’s Bihar unit had also charged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with misleading the people on finalising the date of the presidential visit to Bihar.

Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had said that the party had finalised the date of the rally way back on March 20 and Kumar was fully aware of it. He had alleged that the Chief Minister was duty-bound to apprise the President of the scheduled political event during his visit.

Meanwhile, JD(U) MP Ali Anwar has said that all controversies regarding the matter should rest if the President has agreed to revise his tour schedule. “To begin with the state government had nothing to do with the dates, the BJP was unnecessarily trying to make political capital out of it. In any case, Narendra Modi and controversies go together,” he said.

This will be Modi’s first ever rally in Patna in Gandhi Maidan. The rally has been appropriately named the Hunkar (bugle) to challenge Nitish Kumar on his home turf. Nitish had been successful in keeping Modi away from visiting Bihar for any public rally in the last eight years even when the JD (U) was an NDA ally. He had also returned Gujarat government’s Kosi flood relief donations in 2008.

BJP has booked 10 trains for its supporters to reel in Patna for Modi’s rally. This will be the biggest rally in the state. The quantum of success of Modi’s Hunkar rally will guide the BJP’s future electoral strategy in Bihar.

The political situation in Bihar are already bubbling with the war becoming more direct between BJP and ruling JD(U). Exit of RJD chief Lalu Yadavfrom the scene after his conviction in fodder scam and the decision of his party not to field Rabri or anybody from his family in the election has made the matter more interesting.

The minority vote will become decisive and both the parties will try to catch the chunk. The Congress will possibly becoming game-changer in later stages as it may form alliance either with Nitish or Lalu as per the situation. As for now, its presence is inconsequential.

Though Modi has never addressed Biharis, he is already a talk in most parts of the state due to his style of oratory, great administration and middle-class reach. In the end, the votes will decide his fate.

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