Patna,(BiharTimes): On March 17 both Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar and his Gujarat counterpart, Narendra Modi, would be addressing rallies in two different cities of the country with one objective––to exhibit their strength.
While Nitish would be holding the rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, Narendra Modi would be speaking almost simultaneously at Somaiya Ground in Sion, central Mumbai.
Incidentally, both Delhi and Maharashtra are considered as the Congress stronghold as it is in power at the both the places.
But more than challenging the Congress the two NDA bigwigs appear to be locked in war of attrition––a feud if not stopped soon may have a devastating impact on the alliance as such.
While Delhi has a sizeable Bihari population, in Mumbai Gujaratis have a palpable presence. If Nitish would harp on his four year old slogan, special category status for Bihar, the Gujarat chief minister would be addressing the young BJP workers and supporters.
Nitish’s greatest problem is that unlike November 4 Adhikar Rally of Patna the Janata Dal (United) is in no position to mobilize huge crowd in Delhi. In fact till now it has not done much to make the March 17 rally a big success. Even after a prolong Adhikar Yatra by the chief minister the Janata Dal (United) could not attract big crowd in Patna on November 4. In such a situation one can not expect March 17 rally to be a big success.
Besides, the Budget session of Assembly is going on in Bihar, which will also come as an obstacle for the CM and his ministers to spare much time. It is not possible to hire 15,000 buses and eight trains to take the people to Delhi to make the rally even as impressive as of November 4.
Apart from that, the Bihar chief minister, for the reason best known to him, is not taking any support of BJP for the rally though the issue concerns the larger interest of the state.
The Janata Dal (United) has hardly any presence in Delhi. It is just like other regional parties, RJD or LJP there in Delhi. Had it sought the support of the BJP it would have been a different story as the party has a well-equipped orgqanizational network in the national capital region.
But then Narendra Modi too has his own quota of problems. The BJP seems to have deliberately chosen March 17 as a date. Many Modi-loyalist ministers of the Nitish cabinet and other leaders of the BJP may go to Mumbai as there is no invitation from Delhi.
For all its rhetoric the truth is that BJP is not a big force in Mumbai. Instead Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are in better position to take on Congress-NCP alliance in Mumbai.
The two rallies on the same day at national and commercial capitals of the country by two of the stalwarts of NDA will naturally bring smile on the face of Congressmen and women.
Nitish Kumar is caught in a fix. On March 17 he will have to make it clear whether he is serious in his criticism of Gujarat chief minister, or whether the whole anti-Narendra Modi oratory is just for the public consumption or to befool the Muslims. There is near unanimity among political observers that Nitish has taken the battle against Modi too far and it is now difficult for him to come back. The issue has created a lot of suspicion and doubt in the rank and file of both the BJP and JD(U).
So more than anything else the March 17 rally may end up as an exercise in one-upmanship. Both Nitish and Modi are master in media management. But the media has its limitations. Congress and other regional parties are very much there to grab any opportunity if the rift deepens further between the two NDA regional satraps.