There is an element of enigma in how the Centre in the Narendra Modi dispensation deals with the politically crucial state of Bihar. The Modi government seemed all set to allot berths to the Janata Dal (United) after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar snapped links with the Opposition and made common cause with the BJP which was until a few months ago a bitter rival. However, when Modi expanded his council of ministers, there were no ministers from JD (U).
The Shiv Sena, which has made it a habit to hit Prime Minister Modi below the belt too was ignored on its demand to have greater representation in the Union Cabinet. No explanation was offered as to why the JD (U) had been kept out even as Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal mocked at Nitish Kumar for being left high and dry by the BJP.
Recently, when Modi visited Patna it was widely speculated that in deference to Nitish Kumar’s plea, he would declare the university in the State capital to be a central university. That too did not happen even though the Prime Minister spoke at the centenary celebrations of Patna university. Instead, lamenting that no Indian university figured among the top 500 globally, Modi said the government intends to unshackle these institutions and provide Rs 10,000 crore to 20 varsities to ensure that they are counted among the best in the world.
He called upon Bihar to compete for inclusion in those 20 universities. What Modi did was not wrong but that he did not accede to Nitish’s publicly-voiced demand was a handle that the RJD used to show that the Prime Minister was short-changing Nitish. The Prime Minister concentrated on his assertion that the Centre was particular about proper connectivity which would lead to greater development. His focus areas were roads, railways, waterways and in that context he laid the foundation stone of projects under Namami Gange and National Highway in Bihar. He also inaugurated four sewerage projects will he said be very helpful for cleaning of Ganga. It would perhaps not be wrong to say that the thrust was towards preparing the BJP for the next elections.