LK downplays Nitish-Modi ad issue, reaches out to Nitish
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Last Updated: Sunday, June 13, 2010, 21:45
  
Patna: Soft-pedalling the controversy over the Nitish-Modi advertisement, senior BJP leader L K Advani today said "small problems" do occur in an alliance while JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav asserted that the "unpleasant" incident has been left behind.

"There can be differences in an alliance. I read in the newspapers that due to an advertisement, there were cracks. But by shaking hands, how can there be cracks. It can only lead to friendship and small problems do occur," Advani said addressing the party's Swabhiman rally here.

Reaching out to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had yesterday taken strong exception to the newspaper ad showing him holding hands with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP patriarch said he would have been happy had Kumar been present at the rally.

Advani fondly recalled how in 1995 the JD(U) leader had attended the BJP's national convention in Mumbai when he invited then Samata Party ailing leader George Fernandes for the meet.

He said Kumar has since been a part of the NDA and has been a senior minister for six years in the Vajpayee government.

"I would have been very happy if Nitish was present here today at this grand rally and addressed it with us," the former BJP president said.

No other BJP leader, including party chief Nitin Gadkari or Modi took the name of Kumar.

Gadkari, however, appealed to the people to vote NDA to power for the second time in the state to further speed up development and spoke of adherence to 'coalition dharma'.

Modi took a dig at Kumar while thanking Bihar for helping Gujarat after the 2001 earthquake and also praised the contribution of the people of the state in development of his state.

Kumar had yesterday criticised the Gujarat Government's claim that it had provided aid liberally to Bihar after the Kosi floods, prompting the Chief Minister to say that it was an "uncivilised" comment and he was willing to return the relief money.

Advani's attempt to extend the olive branch came on the heels of a statement by the JD(U) chief downplaying the stand-off between Kumar and Modi and emphasising that the JD(U)-BJP have "old ties".

"Our alliance and relationship is quite old... an unpleasant incident took place yesterday and it has passed," Sharad Yadav said, but added that it was customary from the head of the government before their photographs appear in advertisement.

The BJP has been an ally of Kumar for nearly two decades in the struggle for ridding Bihar of its misrule and bringing good governance in the state, Advani maintained in his speech.

He asserted that Nitish's achievements as Chief Minister were possible due to support of the BJP.

BJP sources said that at the Executive meeting, BJP President Nitin Gadkari sent a clear message to Kumar that his party was not going to compromise on self-respect, which was most important to it.

At the same time, Gadkari struck a conciliatory note by saying that BJP was a mature political party whose leadership has resilience and "respect(s) every leader, partnership and alliance" and it is the "job of a mature political party to take all along".

"We are a mature party which has a mature leadership with resilience...We are showing maturity. For us, our self-respect is most important. We are not going to compromise on our self-respect," party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.

Rudy said that the party leaders attending the national executive meet were "fortunate that we are being hosted under the best possible arrangement", a statement meant to thank the state government headed by Kumar, leading the JD(U)-BJP coalition.

The BJP spokesman defended Modi over the advertisements that have angered Kumar.

"He is a leader and a successful Chief Minister and the way he is running the state is being hailed by his supporters and some overzealous among them have made efforts to widen his appeal by showing what is the truth," Rudy said.

He also downplayed the advertisements issued by the Gujarat government in prominent newspapers today, highlighting the achievements of the Modi administration.

"The state governments and Central government come out with such advertisements regularly," he said.

Kumar had cancelled a dinner for BJP top brass last night following the controversy over the advertisements.

In the previous state polls and the Lok Sabha elections, Nitish Kumar had not allowed Modi to campaign in Bihar.

With the Bihar assembly elections due later this year, the JD(U) leader has made it known that he would not like to be seen with Modi, the face of hardline Hindutva, and be associated with any move that could anger his Muslim votebase.

Criticising Kumar, Bihar's Cooperative Minister Giriraj Singh of BJP said, "How can he (Kumar) treat BJP as his friend while its icon Modi is unacceptable."

The state police today carried out searches at the office of the ad agency Expression Advertising that issued the controversial advertisement. Its head in Patna said the ad had been cleared by Surat BJP MP CR Patil.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, June 13, 2010, 21:45


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