With the Janata Dal (United) national meeting expected to dwell on the issue of prime ministerial candidate of the NDA, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Saturday said any issues between the two parties would be sorted out.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and JD(U) National president Sharad Yadav are seen during the party's Adhikar rally in Patna. PTI
He was referring to reservations that the JD(U) have expressed over the clamour within the BJP to project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the alliance's prime minister candidate, ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2014.
"JD(U) is an old ally. If there is any issue, it will be sorted out mutually," Rajnath Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
The national executive meeting of JD(U) began in New Delhi on Saturday and the national convention will take place on Sunday.
Sources said that there had been back channel talks between the senior BJP and JD(U) leaders as tensions were simmering over the choice of prime ministerial candidate. They said the BJP does not want the JD(U) to set any immediate deadline for the declaration of a prime ministerial candidate.
Speculation was rife in political circles that the JD(U) would press for an early decision on the prime ministerial candidate, given the party's reservations to projecting Modi for the post.
JD(U) sources asserted that the party was working, in alliance with the BJP, on a common national agenda, and would not compromise on the principle of secularism.
Sources had indicated that the JD(U) could decide to part ways with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) if Modi is projected as prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has, on more than one occasion, expressed grave reservations over Modi's candidature for prime ministership, given his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The JD(U) is the largest constituent of the NDA after the BJP, with 20 members in the Lok Sabha. The party leads the government in Bihar, with the BJP as its junior partner.
JD(U) MP Ali Anwar Ansari has said that the party has "principles" on the issue of prime ministerial candidate: The person chosen should have secular credentials, be able to take everyone along, and should be a votary of the rights of backward states.
Ansari said the NDA would collectively decide on its prime minister choice, and the BJP, being the largest constituent of the alliance, should propose a name.