After an acrimonious war of words over Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's acceptability or otherwise to be the NDA's PM candidate, the first sign of a 'thaw' in the ties between the two allies has made its appearance.
As a 'goodwill gesture' to its Bihar ruling coalition partner, the JD(U) has left to the BJP one of the three state legislative council seats for which by-elections are slated to be held on May 9.
The by-elections have been necessitated by deaths of sitting members Ramashray Prasad Singh of the JD(U), Badshah Prasad Azad and Ramchandra Prasad, both of the Lalu Prasad-led RJD.
"We were in a position to win all three seats on our own strength. But we preferred to follow the alliance dharma and leave one seat to the BJP," Bihar JD(U) president told a section of the media.
Reacting to Singh's stand, Bihar BJP chief Mangal Pandey told HT on Friday that the JD(U) had done only what it was expected to do being the BJP's NDA ally and its Bihar ruling coalition senior partner.
While the two statements indicated a continuing undercurrent of tension between the two allies, the presence of top leaders of the two parties during the filing of nomination by their nominees on Friday sent out a positive signal.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, deputy chief minister Sushil Modi and NDA state convenor Nand Kishore Yadav were present with Singh and Pandey when Vivek Thakur, Manzar Alam and Rajkishore Singh Kushwaha, filed their papers.
"This shows that the alliance continues to be on a firm footing," NDA state convenor Yadav told reporters soon after the formalities.
The JD(U) claim it was in a position to win all three seats on its own appeared to have substance.
"Being by-elections for three separate seats and not the usual biennial election (due in 2014), the party having a 'majority' in the assembly can, on the face of it, win each of them," said an official.
"In a regular biennial poll the total strength of the house is divided among the number of vacant seats on offer. This principle, however, does not apply to a by-election," the official explained.
With 117 MLAs in the 243-member Bihar assembly, to the BJP's 91, Nitish Kumar's party is just five short of a simple majority of 122. It believes it makes up this shortfall with the backing of five of six independent MLAs.
Together, the NDA coalition partners enjoy an overwhelming majority. As such, all three NDA nominees are all set to romp home easily.
The 'thaw' came on the heels of a slanging match between two parties in the wake of Nitish Kumar's 'critical remarks' against Modi, whom he did not name, at the JD (U) national council meeting in New Delhi on April 13.