While maintaining that its alliance with Janata Dal-United (JD-U) was intact, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday said both the parties could be in power in Bihar only if they stick together.
However, in an indication of emerging rifts, a BJP leader declining to be identified said that the party would not be the one to snap the ties and would wait for the JD-U to take the first step.
BJP leader L.K. Advani, who has been upset over Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's elevation as the chief of the party's election campaign for the 2014 polls, is learnt to have talked to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and JD-U president Sharad Yadav. Advani stressed that the two parties should contest the Lok Sabha polls together.
Toeing the official party line, BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said the BJP and JD-U alliance would continue "in the interest of the people of the state and any break in ties will ruin the hopes of the electorate".
"The alliance is continuing because people want it. The BJP, which formed the NDA (National Democratic Alliance), wants that the alliance in Bihar should be strong. It is in the interest of Bihar," Hussain said.
"If we work together, we will continue to rule. Otherwise, it will ruin hopes of people of state," Hussain said.
He also said that the BJP has only accepted the line taken by the JD-U president, who Wednesday said that the alliance was intact.
"We are endorsing what Sharad-ji said," Hussain said.
As developments in Patna indicated a possible rift between the BJP and the JD-U, Advani - who Monday resigned from the BJP's core panels - called Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, and said it was important for the parties to contest the Lok Sabha polls together, sources from the party said.
Advani had Monday tendered his resignation from key party posts after Narendra Modi was made the chief of the party's campaign committee for the 2014 general elections.
However, Advani retracted after Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat persuaded him to reverse his decision to quit the BJP's national executive, the parliamentary board and the election committee, indicating the growing clout the party's ideological parent clearly enjoys.
The JD-U, which has been vocal in its opposition to projecting Modi as the NDA's prime ministerial candidate, has been upset over his elevation.
In Patna, JD-U leaders Wednesday seemed to have decided to end the 17-year-old alliance with the BJP over the elevation of Modi. A formal announcement to this effect is expected soon.
Meanwhile, Hussain said that voters in Bihar had given their mandate to the JD-U-BJP alliance.
"How can we go separate ways?" he said, and hoped that the alliance would continue in the next elections also.