Bonhomie between the arch rivals was in full display today with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “keep visiting” the state while the latter gesturing masses chanting “Modi, Modi” to calm down while Kumar spoke.
Addressing the inauguration function of the newly constructed Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge in the presence of Modi, Kumar noted with happiness that the central government has taken seriously the issue of the dilapidated condition of the Gandhi bridge on river Ganga.
“I have full faith that the central government will give its nod to the plan for its renovation. And now since you (Modi) have come, my expectation has increased. You have come here (in Bihar) for the first time after the elections.
“I will request that your visit to Bihar should keep happening for its development. Without Bihar’s progress, the progress of the nation is not possible,” Kumar said amid cheers from the crowd.
While the Chief Minister was delivering his speech, a section in the crowd began vigorously chanting ‘Modi, Modi’.
Seeing this, Modi, who was seated next to Kumar, rose and walked up to the corner of the stage and was seen gesturing to the masses to calm down and maintain silence.
On the dais both the Prime Minister and Kumar were seen smiling and talking to each other.
In his address, Nitish also recalled that the work for Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge as well as the bridge in Munger had started way back in 2002 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and he was the Railway Minister.
“I am happy that the work started then is now being dedicated to the nation and this is a matter of huge satisfaction to me. And I agreed with the Prime Minister and the Railway Minister (Suresh Prabhu) for this.
Turning to Modi, Kumar said,”you have come on this occasion. I have to express nothing except happiness. Since you have come here, people will definitely get the benefit.”
Noting that both the central and the state governments have to serve the people, he said both have to together accelerate the pace of development. “I expect full cooperation from you,” Kumar said.
Recalling Kumar’s past association with NDA, the Prime Minister also took a jibe at the previous UPA government without naming it for having “neglected” the project in its last ten year-rule.
“This project was initiated when Nitish Kumar was Railway Minister and Atal ji was Prime Minister. The dream of that time is being realised now,” he said.
Leaving aside political rivalry, Modi who has shared a contentious relationship with Kumar in the past, also chose the occasion to laud the Bihar Chief Minister’s efforts in taking forward Centre’s rural electrification scheme in Bihar.
“I am grateful to Nitish ji. Work is progressing with speed in Bihar due to his efforts. If the central government and the Bihar government decisively work, we can finish the work fast and make a proud Bihar,” he said.
Kumar had walked out of NDA snapping the 17-year-old ties with BJP over the deemed projection of Modi as prime ministerial candidate of that party in June 2013.