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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Nitish's hard talk sets stage for NDA split

Mammen Matthew & Ashok Mishra, Hindustan Times  Patna, June 14, 2013
First Published: 18:49 IST(14/6/2013) | Last Updated: 09:45 IST(15/6/2013)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar admitted for the very first time on Friday, that the ‘political situation had turned difficult’ and a decision on the continuation of the NDA alliance in Bihar was now into the crucial discussions within his party.

He hinted at the lead alliance partners' ‘duplicity’, when he quoted the famous lines to address the juxtapositions in the fluid political situation availing, post Narendra Modi elevation and LK Advani resignation episodes.

He said: Dua detein hain jeeney ki; dawa kartey hain marney ki, Dushwari ka yehi sabab hai", meaning "They bless us for life but prescribe medicines for death - that is the difficulty".

The quote lent itself to several meanings in the context of the ongoing efforts - both in Patna and New Delhi - to save the NDA from an imminent split but more specifically suggested, that Kumar meant, the “BJP says one thing, but does just the opposite”.

Kumar's hint was closer to the suggestion, that the 'end was nigh' even though he left some space for continuing dialogues with his BJP counterparts, when he said "Many in the BJP still believe in continued dialogue in favour of finding an end to this impasse and prolong the alliance".

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Yet, he actually went onto surprise, when he threw an open invite to five top BJP leaders to his Janata Durbar - a continuing feature on Monday, where he meets people with officials to solve their problems on the spot.

Nitish was speaking to media, soon after his arrival at the Patna airport from Katihar, after rounding off his two-day Sewa Yatra on Friday.

He said, "The availing situation is definitely difficult. There are suggestions upon suggestions from all sides. What is to be done, cannot be spelt off the cuff. That would take time and can come only after discussions with all concerned, especially our party leaders and legislators", he added.


Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar interacts with media at the airport in Patna on June 14, 2013. PTI Photo

Kumar said: "What has to be done, has to be decided. Many on either side are of the view, that the alliance is very old and hence should be taken forward. Many want it snapped. On the other hand, the emerging situation is such, that it is difficult for us".

Read More: Divorce is certain: Why JD(U)-BJP alliance will end in Bihar

He said, "Whatever happens will be the result of mutual dialogues with all sides and we will come back to you, once that is done".

Kumar's above statements underlined, that he was not too happy with the drift of the arguments on both sides on the issue of the alliance. But then, his statement did not allude to a purposive decision having been arrived at, on whether, a foreclosure is on the anvil.

The BJP core committee, mainly made of a dozen ministers, which met at deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar modi's residence on Polo Road, however, was of the opinion, that "The flashpoint had finally been reached and the separation is sure. However, the committee called on party legislators to be present in Patna on 17th even though party chief Mangal Pandey surprisingly slammed the JD-U leaders with 'contacting leaders in a bid to poach on numbers".

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There were indications, however, that "An all-out effort in Delhi by the LK Advani group to avoid an imminent split had failed." 

Advani himself, party president Rajnath Singh, Prakash Singh Badal, Uma Bharati, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari had been involved in talks with Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar over the last two days.


Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar at the airport in Patna on June 14, 2013. PTI Photo

Party national vice president CP Thakur added to the din of separation, when he added: “Though Nitish Kumar can continue post split in government with the numbers he has, morally he should resign and seek fresh mandate”.

Meanwhile, the BJP legislature party seemed to have reconciled itself to the imminent split at a core committee meeting, but stopped short of declaring a pull out and enmasse reisgantions by its ministers.

The core committee, however, did discussed 'informally', the names of present health minister, Ashwini Choubey, Chandramohan Rai and roads development minister, Nandkishore Yadav for the post of the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, post split. The consensus was that Yadav could hold this post, replacing the RJD's Abdul Bari Siddique on the basis of party numbers.

Read More: BJP-JD(U) talks fail, breaking point nears

JD-U president Sharad Yadav, who is to arrive in Patna on Saturday for the party meet scheduled on Sunday, said: "The NDA alliance exists for now. But, it was expected that the alliance had to continue under the norms of national agenda, under which the coalition functioned so far. That has not happened. Some developments of late within the BJP, have not been in consonance with the agreed norms of association, which makes matters difficult".

Asked, whether some scope for rapproachment remained, he said "Options are always open, but the larger view within the party would prevail".


Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar with deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi at Krishi Cabinet meeting in Patna. PTI Photo

KC Tyagi, Rajya Sabha member and spokesman for JD-U said, "The acrimony has gone too far. The way Nitish Kumar, a founder member of NDA has been treated by the bigger ally, points to a breakdown. We did not provide the BJP with any ultimatum on any issue. But, we are definitely concerned over the chain of events in the BJP in the last few days and the situation has turned difficult".

The JD-U's national council has already authorised Yadav to take the final decision in consultation with Kumar.

JD-U legislators, however, said, that on June 15, the party might decide to dissolve the NDA and present a list of 123 legislators (118JD-U and 5 independents) to Governor DY Patil to register its claim to run the government.

Read More: BJP ministers skip office, JD(U) gears for life minus BJP

BJP sources ruled out an attempt at forming the government, saying "With 91 seats, we are not in a position to force an issue with 22 legislators of RJD and 4 of Congress ruled out from providing support".

"We will make an all-out effort to win the 2014 polls by fanning into the interiors. It's best we are not encumbered by office", said a leading light of the BJP.

The BJP, however, has decided 'not to withdraw support. We will just go once Nitish Kumar pulls the rug. The party wants Kumar to take the call and the onus", said a Bihar minister.

BJP ministers have already stopped attending official work, indicating clearly, that the party believed, that the 18-year old alliance and relationship is all but over.

As if to underline the BJP feeling, Shivanand Tiwary, JD-U spokesman said, “Only a miracle can save the alliance now, especially after the BJP has imposed Modi on us. But I do not believe in miracles”.

He said, "Having been in favour of a secular nominee for prime ministership, the BJP's elevation of Modi as its campaign manager, does not fool anybody on who its final choice would be. Nitish Kumar had taken a principled stand. If that has not been taken cognizance of, where does it leave us? The onus for the split is totally theirs".



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