“Tension mat lijiye. Relax kijiye (Don’t be tense. Relax),” was Nitish Kumar’s response to reporters on Monday questioning him about the future of the BJP-JD(U) alliance in Bihar.
The chief minister sought to downplay the crisis that has hit the coalition since the ad controversy involving Narendra Modi broke out last week. Just yesterday, Kumar’s deputy Sushil Modi, who is a BJP leader, chose to stay away from his Vishwas Yatra.
Also, coming close on the heels of JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav’s calls to bury the hatchet, Kumar’s comment suggests that his party may not be in a hurry to break with the BJP. The ally, too, appears to be in a mood to continue the tie-up, without which the party fears setbacks in Bihar.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari has called a meeting of Bihar unit’s core committee in New Delhi on Tuesday night for consultations. This decision was taken when state party chief CP Thakur and Shahnawaz Hussain met Gadkari late Monday evening. It’s being seen as a move to pacify the state's leaders and workers.
However, Thakur, who met senior leader LK Advani early on Monday, is believed to have requested the central leadership to internally inform the state quickly on whether they should prepare to go it alone. For, a last-moment decision wouldn’t leave them with enough time to prepare for polls.
“We are prepared to fight the elections alone if we are forced to do so. But, we would like the alliance to continue,” Thakur said after meeting Advani.
JD(U) national spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari too hinted at continuing with the alliance. “We hold the BJP responsible for the present mess arising out of the developments over the advertisements. But we want to continue the relationship...” he said. “The alliance is the need of the hour.”
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: “We are in favour of working for the development of Bihar with our self-respect intact.” The message: the alliance should continue, but without the repeated snubs from Kumar that are making Bihar’s BJP workers angry.
In Patna, Kumar interacted with his deputy and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi at the Raj Bhawan where the new Chief Justice of the Patna HC, Rekha Doshit, was being sworn-in.
The coldness, however, was visible.