The BJP and the Janata Dal (United) drifted further apart on Thursday despite hectic parleys among top leaders to see if the alliance could be kept alive.
Despite BJP patriarch LK Advani looking at the alliance as the surest way of halting Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in his tracks, the BJP prepared for a break, even obliquely wooing the fledgling federal front.
On his part, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also confirmed he was in touch with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha chief minister Navin Patnaik in exploring a ‘federal front’ of the eastern states.
Kumar’s closest friend in Bihar BJP and the state’s deputy chief minister Sushil Modi refused to acknowledge any departmental files sent by his secretaries after 11.30am, signalling that things were going from bad to worse.
In Delhi, at about the same time, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav was serving steaming lemon tea and snacks to BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who had driven in to his residence for talks.
But the 45-minute chat couldn’t break the ice.
The JD(U) stuck to the point that Modi wasn’t acceptable as a prime ministerial candidate, while the BJP leaders were in no position to offer an assurance on this.
BJP president Rajnath Singh’s telephone conversation with Kumar didn’t yield any positive outcome either.
The JD(U) will meet its legislators in Patna over the weekend and take a call.
The BJP is already anticipating the alliance’s end. Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the party wanted the alliance to continue.
However, Kumar’s company remains Advani’s lifeline. For, invoking fear that Kumar may quit is the surest way of slowing the Gujarat CM down.
The party is however already preparing for a divorce.
Significantly, this meant voicing sympathy for a federal front, with the constituents of which the BJP would look to do business if the NDA shrinks with Kumar’s departure.