Caught between two Modis

The BJP MLAs in Bihar appear to be sandwiched between two Modis - deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. The Bihar Modi's cold shoulder to the Gujarat chief minister at the National Development Council meeting in New Delhi confused them more.

"Narendra Modi will galvanise our cadre. But that does not mean that we would win seats. Sushil Kumar Modi, on the other hand, has worked to ensure that the alliance with JD(U) endures. The alliance means seats," said a BJP MLA, stressing that the party legislators were more worried about seats than galvanising the partymen and that they still had doubt over the Gujarat chief minister's influence on rural areas of the state.

The BJP leaders are still debating why deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi refused to exchange pleasantries with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. "According to political rumours, the chief minister has advised Modiji to keep his secular image intact if he wants to survive politically. But I think he could not differentiate between secularism and basic courtesy," said a senior BJP leader, stressing that acknowledging the presence of the Gujarat chief minister would not have hit his secular image.

If the BJP MLAs are worried about the future of their alliance, the JD(U) MLAs appear to be worried over the "isolation" of chief minister Nitish Kumar. "In the initial days, he used to hold a daily evening meeting called gap-shap, in which we used to share feedback on various issues with leaders and journalists. Now, he has done away with the tradition and meets people only he wants to. Nitish also used to go to the state party office and interact with the party workers and leaders earlier. But of late, he has stopped going there. Nitishji is cutting himself from the party and the workers," a worried party MLA said. Of course there has been a grudge against the Bihar chief minister for relying on bureaucrats. "We will fight the polls for him and not the officials. If the chief minister does not meet us, it is his loss," said a JD(U) legislator. Some JD(U) leaders, however, pointed out that Nitish's official style of functioning was the same even in the NDA-I regime and he won hands down.

A pair of singers won praise from the Congress leaders at a recent party workers' meet. Leaders on the stage showered money on them as the duo sang songs on the failures of Nitish Kumar. A senior leader was not enchanted, though. "The duo used to sing songs praising Nitish Kumar from the Samata Party days. When Nitish became the chief minister, they wanted government jobs in the art and culture department. But when it did not materialise, they began to sing anti-Nitish songs. The loyalty of court singers and poets keep changing with time," he said. He even recalled an incident when Lalu Prasad made a poet a Rajya Sabha MP just because he had written a booklet of couplets praising him. "The same person joined the Congress after his tenure ended in the Rajya Sabha and refused to recite his own couplets on Lalu," the Congress leader recalled.

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