Vijay Swaroop, Hindustan Times, Nov 18, 2015
Nitish Kumar greets his supporters after winning the Bihar elections India on November 8. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT photo)
(Note: Yes, that is real sportsman spirit. Campaigning for one’s party is one thing, governing one’s state or country is different. In the latter case there is no place for party politics. Nithish’s invitation to Modi is proof. Will Modi rise to national expectation? We hope he will join the swearing-in ceremony on Nov.20, for the good of Bihar and the country. james kottoor, editor)
Nitish Kumar extended a personal invite to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday for his November 20 swearing-in ceremony when the JD(U) leader will take oath as Bihar chief minister following a crushing electoral defeat.
Kumar called up Modi on Wednesday morning after the culmination of the four-day Chhath festival and requested him to attend the function but it wasn’t known if the PM agreed to attend. Sources said the PM congratulated Kumar for the Grand Alliance’s win in the Bihar polls.
The invite comes in the backdrop of a bitter rivalry between the two leaders that has spanned the better part of the past decade. The two leaders repeatedly locked horns during an acrimonious election campaign but Modi congratulated Kumar after the latter’s Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) routed the BJP, winning 178 seats in the 243-member state assembly.
Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony, slated for the historic Gandhi Maidan in the heart of Patna, is expected to be a grand affair and see a bevy of important opposition leaders in attendance. Nitish Kumar invites Narendra Modi for swearing-in: Will the 2 leaders be able to overcome the acrimony during elections and work together?
Chief ministers of West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal) and Uttar Pradesh (Akhilesh Yadav) have already confirmed their participation, as has Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Chief ministers of Orissa (Naveen Patnaik), Assam (Tarun Gogoi) and Andhra Pradesh (Chandrababu Naidu) have also been invited.
Among the other dignitaries who have been extended personal invites are former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who has courted controversies for his social media tirade against the national leadership of the saffron party for the poll loss.“All invitations for the swearing-in function are being issued from the chief minister’s secretariat,” said principal secretary of the cabinet coordination department Amir Subhani but added that he wasn’t authorised to reveal the names of invitees. Sources in the CM’s secretariat, however, confirmed the invitations.
Kumar and Modi have shared an uneasy relationship that goes back more than 15 years. Observers say Kumar dissuaded BJP leaders from letting Modi, then Gujarat CM, campaign in the 2005 and 2010 assembly polls, when the JD(U) and BJP were in alliance.In June 2010, Nitish famously cancelled a dinner hosted for BJP leaders after posters appeared in Patna showing him holding hands with Modi, which he allegedly felt wouldn’t go down well with his Muslim supporters.
Modi’s elevation to the BJP’s campaign chief for last year’s general elections saw the Bihar CM walk out of the 17-year-old alliance in June 2013, only to be decimated in the Lok Sabha polls, managing to win just two seats.But Kumar made a now-famous comeback, decimating the BJP in the state polls where Modi led the saffron campaign from the front.