Pak barometer: How Nitish, Lalu differ
Soon after his return from Pakistan after a week-long trip, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters in Bihar that more such visits could help better ties between India and Pakistan.
He also spoke about how Pakistan was impressed by "Bihar's governance model" and its success in keeping polio at bay, and how its students and intelligentsia responded enthusiastically to his advice that "India and Pakistan should fight hunger and poverty together".
It was apparent that the CM was trying to underline that his trip to Pakistan was not about sightseeing, and that even the stopovers at historical and religious places had a larger design — the Mohenjodaro Indus Valley civilisation site trip had been a "learning experience" on the upkeep of history, while the visit to Mohammed Ali Jinnah's tomb was a bid to
"send message of fraternity and happiness".
If famous cricketer and rising politician Imran Khan reportedly told Nitish "the floor is all yours and I am here as a listener", Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari relaxed protocol to have a meeting with him.
Despite all these "successes", Nitish didn't come close to matching the popularity of his charismatic RJD rival Lalu Prasad Yadav during his trip to Pakistan. Among those who professed to be a fan of Lalu during the 2003 trip was the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who called him an "instant hit". Musharraf had also joked that he would like to exchange his own opposition leader with Lalu for his humour, wit and repartee.
Lalu was mobbed everywhere he went, people sought his autographs, and sought to be clicked with him. He had them eating out of his hands when, in response to an accompanying BJP MP's remark that he had brought to Pakistan good wishes of the then PM A B Vajpayee, Lalu said he brought the wishes of the then Bihar CM and his wife Rabri Devi.