Patna,(BiharTimes): Apparently there is nothing wrong in getting photographed with any political opponent. So if the Gujarat chief minister approached his Bihar counterpart and shook hand with him at the NCTC meet in New Delhi on May 5 there was absolutely no need to create any political storm. In fact Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar are not even political opponents, but are leaders of the two parties, which are alliance partners. There is a history of relationship between them.
But then why the photo showing Nitish Kumar shaking hands with Narendra Modi became a big political issue. Most newspapers prominently displayed it. Television journalists in particular rushed for the bytes of opposition leaders like RJD’s Lalu Yadav and Abdul Bari Siddiqui to seek their view. Some even sought the opinion of Congress leaders. They naturally criticized the handshake.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar and BJP leaders rejected their criticism. They said that the handshake was simply a part of courtesy.
No doubt it was just a handshake and nothing more. But then it is upto Nitish Kumar himself to explain as to why he made the same handshake an issue on June 12, 2010. He cancelled the dinner of the BJP bigwigs present in Patna to attend the national executive then. The only crime of the BJP was that one of the advertisements of the Gujarat government published in the local newspapers showed Nitish and Narendra Modi shaking hand at a public meeting in Punjab during the May 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign.
So what is wrong in using the already published photographs in advertisement. But in the eyes of Nitish it was wrong. Raids were carried on the advertisement agency. Nitish did not stop there. He returned Rs five crore of aid given by the Gujarat government just after the August 2008 Kosi deluge.
The Bihar chief minister did not wait a moment to think as to what is he doing. He exposed his government’s inability in not spending Rs five crore between August 2008 and June 2010. During this about two years period Nitish criticized the Centre for not giving proper financial help to Bihar for flood relief and rehabilitation. But why his government failed in spending Rs five crore?
In this latest photo politics Narendra Modi definitely outsmarted Nitish Kumar. He not only went ahead to meet the Bihar chief minister, but did it at a very appropriate time. A day later, on May 6, Bihar Samaj of Surat was to organize Bihar Diwas in the famous Gujarati city.
That was essentially a BJP show. Nitish was not invited nor was his photo visible anywhere during the function. The BJP paid the Janata Dal (United) back in the same coin as the latter totally ignored the former in Bihar Diwas celebrations in Patna, New Delhi and Mumbai.
Not only that the state’s health minister, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, was present on the occasion. The deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, was busy in the two-day state executive in Begusarai.
Choubey went on to project Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the party. The Janata Dal (United) spokesman, Neeraj Kumar, reacted sharply over his statement.
Choubey on his part praised the people of Gujarat as they allowed people from his state to grow here when some states opposed them. He clearly made reference to the Thackerays and the way Nitish had to seek NOC from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader, Raj Thackeray, to visit Mumbai. But what the Gujarat chief minister spoke on the occasion needs to be analyzed too. He not only gave a call of Gujarati Bihari Bhai Bhai but went to say something more. He said that the image of Bihar has to be “restored” and its glory “re-established” meaning clearly that it has not been done so in the last six and a half years of Nitish Kumar. Herein lies the crux of Narendra Modi’s speech on the occasion.