In the midst of a standoff involving Chief Ministers Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi, the BJP on Sunday sent a clear message to ally JD(U) that it was acting with "maturity" by taking "all along" but would not compromise on self-respect.
"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 said.
He was replying to questions on the strains in BJP-JD(U) ties after Kumar yesterday cancelled a dinner for the BJP top brass attending the party's national executive, apparently upset over his photograph being shown alongside that of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in a newspaper advertisement. Kumar had also criticised the Gujarat Government's claim that it had liberally donated aid to Bihar during the 2008 Kosi floods in another newspaper advertisement, calling it "uncivilised".
Defending Modi on the advertisement issue, Rudy said, "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." Modi, however, has maintained silence over the controversy. The Gujarat Government today again brought out full page advertisements focusing on the development in the state.
Rudy said the BJP was a mature political party whose leadership has resilience and it "respects every leader, partnership and alliance" and it is the "job of a mature political party to take all along".
He insisted that the party leaders attending the national executive meet were "fortunate that we are being hosted with the best possible arrangement," a statement meant to praise the state government headed by Kumar, leading the JD(U)-BJP coalition in Bihar.
He said he was not aware whether the Bihar Chief Minister was angry and that a section of the state BJP wants to give a "fitting response" to the chief minister. The BJP spokesman also downplayed the the issue of advertisements brought out by Gujarat Government in prominent newspapers today, highlighting the achievements of the Modi administration. "State governments and the Central government come out with such advertisements regularly," he said.
With Kumar ordering an inquiry into the controversial advertisement showing him with Modi, the row deepened today as the state police carried out searches at the office of the ad agency Expression Advertising.
The police seized the PDF files and e-mails received by the agency in connection with the advertisements, official sources said. The authorities swung into action after Kumar's secretary Chanchal Prasad wrote to the Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Jain, asking him to go into the matter.
Official sources said that the money for the advertisements was paid in cash in Surat and efforts were on to verify the source of the payment. Meanwhile, a BJP minister from Bihar today lashed out at the Chief Minister questioning how he had "suddenly discovered that Modi is communal".
"How come he treats BJP as his friend but finds its icon Modi unacceptable. The chief minister has been trying to create a secular image for himself by publicly distancing from Modi," state Cooperative Minister Giriraj Singh told reporters here.
"Kumar had never expressed his antipathy for Modi in the past when he was a minister in NDA government at the Centre from 1998-2004, while the latter was the organising secretary and later general secretary of BJP before being elevated as Gujarat chief minister," Singh said.
The BJP, meanwhile, suggested that the issue of ties with JD(U) did not come up for discussions at the meeting of the party executive. Rudy said that the BJP has come to Patna to focus on national issues like price rise, naxalism and terrorism. "We are a national party.... We will settle all debates and issues before we leave," he said. PTI