Nitish Keeps Mum on Modi's Hat-Trick

Even as congratulations poured in for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for winning three successive Assembly polls in the state, his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar is keeping a stoic silence, which has set the tongues wagging.

When mediapersons sought reaction from Kumar this morning on the historic victory of Modi, he kept mum and went ahead to attend an official function.

The Bihar chief minister had not entertained similar question last evening too.

In reply to the query of the reporters on the Modi's victory, Kumar said "I'll call you fellows separately for this."

The stoic silence maintained by Kumar, who is a senior leader of BJP's NDA ally JD(U), has triggered gossipping in the political circle.

BJP leaders in the state have disapproved Kumar's stance.

When asked about the silence of Kumar on Modi's victory, state BJP President C P Thakur wondered as to why Kumar did not make a customary gesture which was common in public life.

"It is for Kumar to explain as to why he did not congratulate Modi...Congratulating somebody on victory is a normal practice in public life," Thakur, a former union minister, told reporters here.

Thakur has on many occasions favoured Modi to be made BJP's PM nominee for 2014 general elections.

Nitish Kumar's aversion for Modi over 2002 communal riots in Gujarat is well known. Recently, in an interview to a national daily, Kumar had emphatically said that NDA's prime ministerial choice should have secular credential which was construed as his opposition to the candidature of Modi.

On the insistence of Kumar, BJP kept Modi away from campaign in Bihar both in the last general elections in 2009 and state Assembly polls in 2010.

During BJP's national executive meeting at Patna in 2010, angry over publication of advertisement in newspapers about donation provided by Modi for Kosi flood victims, Kumar had cancelled a dinner he had to host for BJP leaders then.

While Nitish Kumar ducked question on Modi, state Minority Welfare Minister Shahid Ali Khan, who was with him at the programme on popularising e-governance, told the reporters, "it's the prerogative of the chief minister either to offer reaction to something or not...So far the matter concerning victory of BJP in Gujarat, I congratulate all who defeated Congress."

Another Modi's strong supporter and state Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh said "it is a routine practice that even a defeated candidate congratulates the winner in an election."

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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