Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Patna last week was anything but an opportunity for the state’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, to flaunt about. For, despite being a proud host, his day was mired by couple of glaring incidents of public insults by a person no less than his new boss.
When Modi visited in Patna last week, Kumar arrived at the airport to receive the prime minister. However, Modi’s SPG stopped reportedly stopped his official vehicle from going to the tarmac. Kumar was left annoyed and visibly red-faced. It took the high level intervention to end the confusion before he was allowed to proceed towards the tarmac. According to those present at the airport, Kumar was made to wait for few minutes before he received a go-ahead to receive the PM.
His next insult, even bigger public humiliation, came in during the programme to mark the centenary celebrations of Patna University. Taking advantage of his new friendship with the prime minister, Kumar made a desperate plea for the Centre to accord Patna University a central university status.
“Mein haath jor ke pradhan mantriji se agrah karta hoon ki is aitihasik mauke par Patna University ko kendriya vishwawidyalay ka darja dein (I request the honourable Prime Minister with folded hands to declare Patna University a central university on this historic occasion),” Kumar was quoted by The Telegraph.
Far from being moved by emotions, Modi snubbed Kumar in front of a 5,000 strong Bihari crowd mainly students. Side-stepping Kumar’s request, Modi said, “Ye sab baat puraani ho gayee hain. Hum Patna University ko central university se aur aage le jaana chahte hain (This is an old thing. I want to take Patna University beyond a central university).”
Instead, Modi invited Patna University to bid for the central government’s new scheme of making world-class universities.
He said, “Ten private and 10 state universities will be selected. Rs 10,000 crore will be pumped into them in the next five years.”
Modi, however, also made it clear that Patna University bidding for the new central government scheme wouldn’t guarantee that it will qualify for the grant. That’s because an independent body would select the 20 universities and no recommendation from the prime minister or chief minister would work.
Kumar had fought a bitter assembly election against Modi in 2015. Such was the bitterness that Modi had even questioned Kumar’s DNA. An angry Kumar had launched an unprecedented campaign against Modi’s comments on DNA by linking the issue to Bihar’s pride.
Kumar’s grand alliance consisting his own party, Janata Dal United, Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Congress party had swept the assembly polls with Modi’s BJP facing a humiliating defeat.
However, little over a year-and-a-half later, Kumar stunned everyone by severing ties with his secular alliance partners to join hands with Modi.
Many feel that Modi’s recent snub to Kumar is in line with his personality trait, for he is known for neither forgiving his adversaries nor forgetting unpleasant experiences of the past.