Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar subtly differed with key ally BJP during his short visit to the capital, but gave every indication that the alliance was comfortable.
He met party colleague Sharad Yadav and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley late on Wednesday evening before leaving for Patna.
Asked if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would campaign for the Bihar polls, Kumar indicated his disapproval but also echoed ally BJP’s stated position that it would decide on its own speakers.
“We want the previous arrangement to continue,” Kumar said. “Now the BJP has to take a decision, but I think they will reach a proper solution.”
Clearly, despite disapproving of Modi’s presence in Bihar, Kumar stopped short of putting a public condition on ally BJP.
This suits the BJP too: the party has till now sought to sooth the ally’s nerves as well as maintain cadre self-respect by saying that it alone would decide its campaigners without, of course, spelling out whether Modi will campaign.
Soon after Kumar said this, BJP’s Bihar Sah Prabhari Dharmendra Pradhan said the BJP would decide its campaigners independently.
On Ayodhya — another contentious issue that matters to the JD(U), which is looking for Muslim votes in Bihar — Kumar said the issue could be solved only through a court verdict, which all should respect, or through mutual consent of the affected communities.
This is being seen as an indirect rejection of a third solution being pushed by the BJP’s mentor, the RSS: that the Parliament legislate is in favour of a Ram temple.
On seat-sharing, however, Kumar said that seat-adjustment was yet to happen, thus keeping open a potentially contentious issue.