Patna, Oct 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image has not dented, at least not in Bihar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday, and added that the BJP is confident of forming the next government in the state.
Modi enjoys the same appeal as he did when he led the Bharatiya Janata Party to an emphatic victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bihar included, the minister said in an interview here.
"I am campaigning in the whole of Bihar. I see no dent in the prime minister's image. The people of Bihar still have confidence in him," Singh told IANS. [Bihar Assembly Elections 2015: Voting ends peacefully]
Rajnath Singh also said that it was due to the BJP's "generosity" that Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar became the chief minister at the head of a BJP-JD-U government in 2005 although the BJP had won more seats than the JD-U in assembly elections.
The BJP accepted the leadership of Nitish Kumar only because it wanted Bihar to develop economically.
"The BJP sacrificed power for stability in Bihar by appointing Nitish Kumar as chief minister in 2005 despite winning more seats as compared to JD-U," Singh said.
"Janata hamari is dariyadili ko janati hai (People know of this magnanimity on our part)," he added.
But the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister alleged that Nitish Kumar became arrogant after taking office.
Rajnath Singh, a former BJP president who played a key role in declaring Narendra Modi the BJP's prime ministerial candidate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, said: "Since Modi started campaigning in Bihar, the scenario has changed. We are strong contenders for forming the government in the state."
He criticised the JD-U and RJD leader Lalu Prasad for harping on caste issues.
"Election is a festival of democracy. The prime issue must be development related. But 'Mahagatbandhan' (Grand Alliance) is raising issues of beef and caste. These are tactics aimed at diverting from real issues."
"It is clear they have no major issue to get people's support," he added.
The former BJP president said people no more voted on caste lines. Now they needed governments that can provide good governance.
"BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are prime examples of this. While voting, people see performance of state governments. They even judge the performance of the central government."
"No corruption issue has surfaced in the central government. Globally, our government is scaling new heights with every foreign visit of the prime minister. People are also judging these issues."
Asked about the BJP's chief ministerial candidate in Bihar, Rajnath Singh said: "We decided not to project any leader as chief ministerial candidate."
"This does not mean we have dearth of leaders in the state. There are lots of capable leaders. When the time comes, our parliamentary board will take the right decision."