Former legislative council member Sanjay Jha, who belonged to the BJP, joined the Janata Dal (United) on Tuesday - an event that caused a further decline in ties between the two ruling allies of Bihar.
Jha had been an active member of the saffron party for nearly 12 years.He joined the Janata Dal (United) at a function held at chief minister Nitish Kumar's official residence in the presence of JD (U) state unit president Bashistha Narayan Singh, senior ministers and other party leaders.
While BJP spokesman and former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain refused to comment on the issue, state-level leaders termed Jha an "opportunist" and said the move was an example of "sycophancy and hypocrisy" and a breach of the "no poaching" agreement between the two allies.
JD (U) leader Narendra Singh said this would improve ties between the two parties.
A close associate of the Bihar chief minister, Jha justified his decision to join the JD (U) by saying he had not joined any other political outfit opposed to the National Democratic Alliance.
"I am still in my own home. The JD (U) is a major coalition partner of the NDA. It is not that I am going to some other party. Whatever work is allotted to me will be executed in the same manner as it was earlier."
Jha said he took the decision after consulting top BJP leaders such as Arun Jaitley, Sushil Modi and Dharmendra Pradhan.
"I have no malice towards anyone in the BJP … My respect for the party is undiminished," he said.
Asked whether his step would further sour relations between the allies, he said it should not be taken in the backdrop of the present controversy.
"It is purely a personal decision and it should not be an issue to upset the alliance. I have been actively involved in strengthening the alliance at the time of crisis," he said.