Bihar Assembly Elections: Modi Issue Not Settled Yet

New Delhi
Bihar Assembly Elections: Modi Issue Not Settled Yet
The debate within the Bharatiya Janata Party on whether Narendra Modi should campaign for Bihar polls is not yet over with the party today saying it has not given to the Election Commission the names of its Chief Ministers who would canvass in the state.

The name of the Gujarat Chief Minister did not figure in the list of star campaigners for the upcoming Assembly polls submitted by the BJP to the Election Commission on Thursday.

"There is a provision where we can invite any of our chief ministers to campaign for elections and a separate prior intimation at short notice can be sent to the Election Commission," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told PTI.

He said that the list of 40 campaigners submitted to the Election Commission by the BJP does not contain the names of any of its Chief Ministers. BJP is in power in seven states and part of the ruling coalition in two states, including Bihar. Some of the chief ministers may campaign for the party.

"The list the BJP had submitted to the Election Commission is for the purpose of informing the poll panel that if helicopters are used by them, the expenses for it would not be added to that of the candidate," Hussain said.

This would mean that the suspense over whether Modi would figure in the BJP's list of star campaigners in the Bihar polls continues. JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is said to be against Modi campaigning in the state as he fears tht it would antagonise the minority community.

Asked if BJP plans to use Modi in the campaign or would bow to pressure from Kumar, Hussain said, "BJP will decide who will campaign for the party. We can always add or remove some of the names in our list of campaigners."

Bihar unit of BJP itself is divided on whether Narendra Modi should campaign for the party. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi- who is considered very close to Nitish- is against the idea.

However, several BJP candidates and some central leaders from Bihar feel Narendra Modi's image of a hardliner would help polarise the votes and brighten the party's prospects.

The list submitted to the EC includes senior national leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, M M Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ananth Kumar, the sources said.

Senior party leaders from Bihar including Sushil Kumar Modi, Ravi Shanker Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Hussain and C P Thakur also figure in the list of BJP campaigners for the six-phase polls beginning on October 21.

The BJP is expected to launch its campaign on October 9 or 10.
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