Scotching speculation about the JD(U) and BJP parting company before the next Lok Sabha elections, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar declared here on Monday that the two ruling coalition partners would contest all 40 seats in alliance with each other.
Nitish also declined to comment on the growing clamour in a section of state BJP leaders to invite Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to campaign in Bihar. “Nobody is talking of contesting separately. We will contest the next parliamentary elections together,” he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of his ‘janata durbar’.
This was widely seen as Nitish’s most positive statement on the future of the alliance since he red-flagged Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate in the next parliamentary polls.
The comment, made in a TV interview some months ago, led to a war of words between the two NDA allies and within the BJP, raising fears that the alliance could be in jeopardy.
These fears were further fuelled when Nitish hinted recently that he was open to joining hands with new allies after the next Lok Sabha elections. Nitish’s statement on Monday came at a time when he has been witnessing protests during his ‘adhikar rallies’ and drawing flak over last week’s police firing in Madhubani district in which one person was killed.
The statement was also significant because till recently, leaders of both the JD(U) and the BJP spoke of the necessity of preparing to contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats independently of each other.