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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

Strongest hint yet of NDA split as Nitish gets no 'concrete assurance' from BJP on Modi

Mammen Matthew, Hindustan Times  Patna, June 13, 2013
First Published: 17:20 IST(13/6/2013) | Last Updated: 22:06 IST(13/6/2013)

Bihar BJP leaders on Thursday seemed to have finally given up on saving the NDA alliance in Bihar, terming chief minister Nitish Kumar's stand on the Modi and alliance issue as 'too rigid', adding, the 'break point has finally arrived'.
 
The signals came in the wake of a reported 'breakdown in talks' among senior BJP and JD-U leaders in New Delhi on Thursday, where attempts at a reconciliation and possible 'give and take formulas' were not taken forward.

BJP leader Nitin Gadkari paid a visit to JD(U) party president Sharad Yadav, but the word was, 'no assurance was given to Nitish Kumar on the issue of Narendra Modi'.

The official line in Patna was, that Gadkari only offered, that the BJP parliamentary board would meet to elect the leader post elections in 2014 and the NDA allies would be sounded out on it later.

Kumar's JD-U had wanted a concrete assurance, riding on BJP patriarch LK Advani's wish, that the next leader be elected in consultation with NDA allies.

Sharad Yadav would only say, that the talks he had with BJP party president Rajnath Singh and Gadkari would be put up at the JD-U meeting with legislators and party leaders in Patna for a decision, and then only communicated to the media.

However, the first strong and firm indication that 'all was over' came in Patna, when BJP's senior most leader and deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi on Thursday refused to acknowledge departmental files sent to him by his secretaries.

He also cancelled two meetings slated last week pertaining to review of state sand mining policy and another of the inter-ministerial group on creation of blcoks and small administrative units, which was to come up in the afternoon.

He instructed his cell, 'not to send any files for reference to his chamber', a close aide told HT.

Modi, closest to chief minister Nitish Kumar among all BJP leaders and a comrade in arms with the latter during the total revolution days of late Jayaprakash Narayan, handles the key and sensitive department of finance, in which capacity, he was also pitchforked as chairman of the committee of finance ministers of states on GST.

Additionally, he holds the forest portfolio, under which an ambitious green Bihar campaign with a target to plant 10 crore trees this year, was taken not a week ago.

Even as it was not clear, whether Modi's refusal to address departmental work, ahead of the split was a conscious decision taken by the state BJP, other ministerial colleagues appeared to be attending to their departmental work-among them Sunil Kumar Pintoo, the tourism minister, Sukhda Pandey, minister for Art and Culture besides others, despite the word, that the 'point of no return' had been reached by the coalition.

Sources close to Modi said, "He refused to take further departmental files after 11.30, while finishing files received earlier".

They said, Sushil Modi felt strongly, that "Kumar has been too rigid on issues riding on a 'devil may care attitude, leaving no scope for talks'.

BJP leaders said, the talks with Rajnath Singh had gone well initially and it had been doubly cleared, that Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi was just the party campaign committee leader and not a prime ministerial nominee yet, so the JD-U had no basis to be aggrieved.

But they added, "Nitish seemed intent on a gamble, which did not go in favour of continuing the alliance.

They said, the position has hardened in JD-U despite an all out effort by Sharad Yadav to stave off the split in his capacity as NDA convenor. The future thus is uncertain", they added.

Party spokesperson, Devesh Chandra Thakur, did not rule out a 're-think', but accepted, "That the road seemed tough", if it was the question of saving the alliance.

In the meanwhile, a member of Kumar's political think tank confided, that Kumar could even resign, an option he had not ruled out.

"He has indicated, he has no stakes and that having put the special state status and the development issue centrestage nationally, he would have scored his point".

Nitish Kumar had earlier in the day indicated, that the third federal front idea mooted by Bengal leader, Mamata Banerjee to which UP chief minister, Akhilesh Singh and Odisha's BJD strongman Naveen Patnaik besides Chandrababu Naidu of TDP had reacted positively, merited some attention.

However, Kumar did not commit to it right away, even as RJD leader Lalu Prasad and JD-S leader HD Dewegowda in Karnatala ruled out such an option.

Kumar significantly added, that an action plan for backward states to demand special status would not be out of place in the ongoing context of political drift.

All eyes, meanwhile, would be on Kumar's return to Patna from Katihar, where he is on his last leg of his Sewa Yatra, soon after which, he would be meeting party leaders and legislators in a bid to arrive at a final decision on the alliance.

There were strong indications, however, that a majority of JD-U legislators were in favour of giving more time to the alliance, rather than plunge into an immediate decision.


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