Now that Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar has spoken in unequivocal terms, that his party would not support any person with a communal taint for the prime ministership, the debate is, whether he has taken a huge political risk?
"It is," national JD(U) spokesman Shivanand Tiwary admitted, adding, however, that "while the party is not into vote accounting, what must be understood is that we have taken a principled stand, which has been consistent too. We don't think of the consequences."
Even as the shock of Kumar's statement reverberated in the BJP, and the erstwhile 'dovish' faction within the Bihar BJP led by deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and his protege, Mangal Pandey, the party president was forced to react strongly against the JD(U).
Tiwary wondered, "What is this shock about? Kumar has been consistent on this line since 2005. The BJP knows of his stand perfectly."
Sushil Modi, who has so far been seen even within the BJP as pro-Nitish and wavering in his support for Narendra Modi, finally hit back strongly for the first time on Tuesday.
He said: "The words, which have been spoken at the JD(U) national executive, without mentioning Narendra Modi, and the choice of words to hit back, have been most shocking. What was spoken should never have been. The entire BJP, its workers and cadres have been most anguished nationwide. The NDA allies should not have attacked each other but turned their entire strength on marking out the UPA for its failures and seeing to it that it is brought down. The situation is most unfortunate."
In Bihar, the 'consensus' within the BJP leadership was clear.
"The die is cast. It is the beginning of the end of the alliance," said pro-changers, including Radha Mohan Singh, Ashwini Choubey, Nand Kishore Yadav and Giriraj Singh - who represent the BJP's engine room.
Insiders in the JD(U) believe Kumar has taken a "huge risk". But then, they argue, there could be gains nationally for the stand.
While, several party legislators feel, that the debate has started a tad early and the 2014 polls seem too far at this juncture, two things could happen: Either, the polarisation of voters' sentiments would become stronger and favour Narendra Modi or the debate could also corner the BJP, especially at a time when it is seen short on allies who could bet on the Gujarat CM.
'The lack of consensus within the BJP' on Modi's possible nomination for prime ministership, is also a point they cite.
Rahul to meet Bihar Congress leaders
New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will on Wednesday hold consultations with party leaders from Bihar in the wake of rumblings in the NDA after Nitish Kumar asked the BJP to project a "secular" prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections.
While some Congress leaders are in favour of an alliance with Kumar, a section is of the view that the JD(U) will not leave NDA. HT Correspondent