After weeks of political haranguing, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi held out the olive branch to ally Janata Dal United on New Year’s Day, expressing hope that the “bitterness, ill-will and mistrust” caused by his recent exchanges with party leader Prashant Kishor will fade away ahead of the assembly elections in the state.
The senior BJP leader, who received guests at his Patna residence on the occasion, also hoped that the people of the state will vote for the NDA in the upcoming assembly polls just as enthusiastically as they did in the Lok Sabha elections last year – awarding it 39 out of 40 seats.
“May the New Year bring peace and prosperity to the people of Bihar, who give their blessings to National Democratic Alliance just like they did in the parliamentary elections last year,” Sushil Kumar Modi said, adding that the BJP and the Janata Dal United have a lot to look forward to.
The BJP leader, who has just returned from a day-long vacation in Chennai for New Year’s Eve, made light of his altercations with Mr Kishor over seat-sharing issues between the two parties. “Let bygones be bygones. I also hope that the bitterness, ill-will and mistrust within the NDA fade away,” he said.
Mr Kishor, who occupies the post of Janata Dal United vice-president, had sparked off a controversy recently by telling news agencies that his party deserves a larger share of the seat-sharing pie than the BJP. Sushil Kumar Modi took to Twitter in retaliation, accusing him of helping the opposition by violating “coalition dharma”. He, however, did not mention Mr Kishor by name.
The Janata Dal United leader was not as subtle in his response on Twitter, written in Hindi and specifically naming Sushil Kumar Modi. “The JDU was elected as Bihar’s largest party because he had the people’s support, not that of any party leader. It is a pleasant surprise to hear Sushil Modi lecture on political decorum and ideology, especially because he got to become Bihar’s deputy chief minister after his party’s loss in 2015,” he said.
The tweet drew condemnation from members of both parties, with everybody from BJP MLA Nitin Nabin to Janata Dal United MP RCP Singh questioning the logic behind Mr Kishor’s “untimely” jibes. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused to comment on the controversy, restricting himself to saying “all is well” before wading through a crowd of inquisitive journalists.
Incidentally, Mr Kishor has taken a strong stand against the Citizenship Amendment Act as well, even questioning his party’s decision to support it. Nitish Kumar has said that he will not implement the National Register of Citizens in Bihar.