Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi came to Patna after a gap of 28 months and was lustily greeted by BJP workers who raised slogans wanting him to be the next Prime Minister.
"Desh ka Pradhan Mantri kaisa ho, Narendra Modi jaisa ho" (a person like Modi should be the PM), the workers shouted when Modi reached the residence of veteran BJP leader Kailashpati Mishra, who died yesterday, to pay floral tributes.
Modi was last here for the BJP national executive meeting in June, 2010.
There is no love lost between Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Modi. Kumar has ensured that the Gujarat strongman was kept out of Bihar in the 2005 and 2010 assembly elections as also the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
Kumar was cut up when advertisements appeared in local newspapers during the BJP meet here showing an old photograph of him and Modi holding hands. Kumar had then cancelled a dinner he was to host for BJP leaders.
To show his displeasure, the Bihar chief minister had also returned a cheque of Rs.five crore sent by the Gujarat government as relief for victims of Kosi floods.
Kumar has also made it clear that his JD(U), which is running a coalition government with the help of BJP in the state, will not back Modi as NDA's prime ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha polls scheduled to be held in 2014.
He has stated that the NDA nominee for the top post should be somebody with "secular credentials".
Kumar, who is also seen as a front runner for the PM's post, has insisted that he was not an aspirant and that he was happy managing Bihar.
Modi pays tribute to Kailashpati Mishra
Modi went to Mishra's residence straight from the Patna airport where he had arrived on a special plane late this afternoon. He stayed at the residence of the departed leader for about 15 minutes before heading back to the airport.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP Deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravishankar Prasad, Bihar BJP President CP Thakur and others accompanied the Gujarat chief minister during his brief stay.
Coming out of Mishra's house, Modi told reporters "Mishra as Governor of Gujarat had worked as bridge between the Centre and the state."
Mishra had served as Governor of Gujarat from 2003 to 2004. He also said Mishra acted as a "guide" for lakhs of party workers across the country.
As the BJP supporters hailed him, Modi stood on a chair and waved to them.