Even though the BJP leadership claimed that neither the Janata Parivar alliance, nor Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate would impact the party's poll prospects, saffron party strategists on Monday met to finalise an action plan to take on the Parivar in light of the new developments.
Though the two-hour long meeting remained 'inconclusive', party leaders decided to focus on two core points: The return of the Jungle Raj, (an euphemism adopted by the BJP to describe the Lalu-Rabri period) and on governance gone wrong during the Nitish regime.
"Other issues would be formalised as poll thrust areas later on," said a top leader who participated in the meeting with Bihar incharge Bhupender Yadav in the chair.
"In no case would even Lalu Prasad's followers accept Kumar as a leader of the alliance, said former deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader, Sushil Kumar Modi. "Moreover, we are convinced this papared over alliance will crack with both Prasad and Kumar backstabbing each other. In any case what is the news in this development? It was a forgeone conclusion as we have been predicting since last year for even today Kumar is the CM because of the mercy of Lalu Prasad and Sonia Gandhi," he added.
Opposition leader Nand Kishore Yadav said, "The development does not distract us from the fact that the people of Bihar have made up their mind for a change and such attempts at forging an alliance would help them."
However, top sources in the party confided to HT on Monday, that BJP national president Amit Shah has held three meetings with Bihar party leaders in the last fortnight to plan out the poll strategy but the meetings had remained inconclusive in view of the political developments in the state.
Apart from asking BJP leaders to reach out to the masses to educate them about the achievements of the Narendra Modi government, Shah couldn't hand over a concrete action plan to them for the assembly elections, said sources.
While many within the BJP feel that a a bigger party like theirs would have been in an advantageous position in a triangular contest with the RJD and JD-U going separate ways, state BJP president Mangal Pandey, had a different take.
He said the task would be easier now that Lalu-Nitish have put up a united front, "It would help us to revive public memory of the RJD's jungle raj and Nitish Kumar's initial resistance to it and now its wholehearted embrace. It is a marriage of convenience with promise of a quick political divorce."
However, BJP poll strategists are also trying hard to compensate for the Narendra Modi wave, which they feel is decidedly on the wane in Bihar.
"We are striving to maintain the Modi euphoria by publicising the Union government's contributions to Bihar in the last one year," said a senior party leader. "Also, the anti-incumbency factor against the Nitish Kumar government would largely benefit the party in the polls," said a top functionary.
The BJP in Bihar has not found NDA government's land acquisition bill to be of any comfort. Its leaders are finding it very difficult to convince the people about the positives of the proposed legislation.
"Undoubtedly, the opposition is in an advantageous position on this count for it has given the voters the impression that they would lose their land without adequate compensation," said a leader. "We are trying hard to dispel the misgivings, but don't know how far would we succeed," he added.
The BJP has reasons to fear the backlash for the upper and backward caste landowners who had voted for Modi, and remain the opinion makers in the rural heartland of Bihar, have been wary of the move and aired their reservations publicly.
The BJP also suffers from several chief ministerial candidates apparently waiting in the wings and the factionalism that beset it, reason why, it is not keen on projecting any one person for the crucial assembly elections this September-October.