The Bihar government has decided to accord Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [ Images ] the status of a 'state guest' during his visit to Patna to attend the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] national executive meeting to be held on June 12 and 13.
The state government's decision has surprised many political experts, as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier distanced himself from Modi for the latter's alleged role in the communal riots that rocked Gujarat in 2002.
The state government's decision indicates some serious shifts in the political equations between the Janata Dal-United and the BJP.
This will be Modi's first visit to Bihar after the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance government came to power four and half years ago. Senior BJP leader L K Advani [ Images ] will also be welcomed as a state guest by the Bihar government during the national executive meeting.
The Bihar CM will also host a gala dinner for the visiting BJP leaders.
Bihar Public Health and Engineering Minister Aswan Kumar Choubey, who is a senior BJP leader, confirmed that Modi will be treated as a state guest during his visit.
Incidentally, due to Nitish Kumar's reservations, Modi had stayed away from campaigning in Bihar in the run-up to last year's Lok Sabha polls. In May, the Bihar CM had categorically stated that there was no need to invite Modi for campaigning before the state assembly polls in November
Nitish Kumar had also opposed a move by a section of BJP leaders to project Modi as a prime ministerial candidate. He had also distanced himself from Modi's victory in the Gujarat assembly polls in 2007, saying, "The JD-U has nothing to do with the BJP or Modi's victory in Gujarat assembly elections as we contested separately."