The alliance between the Janata Dal(United) and the BJP in Bihar continued to remain tenuous over Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s stand against Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and BJP MP Varun Gandhi campaigning for the NDA in the assembly polls in October.
On Wednesday, JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari, speaking on behalf of Kumar upped the ante by telling mediapersons in Patna that “Nitish, and Nitish alone, will decide who will campaign for the NDA”. The statement clearly indicated that there had been no dilution of the Bihar CM’s stand on Modi.
BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, however, said in New Delhi that the JD(U) had neither placed conditions on the BJP nor would the BJP accept any. “We will decide who will campaign for us in Bihar,” he said. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad added, “We don’t need anyone’s advice on the alliance and we are yet to take a final decision... It is our decision who will campaign.”
At a BJP leaders’ meeting at party president Nitin Gadkari’s residence in New Delhi, the party took the stand that it would not to contest even one seat less than the 105 assembly seats (of the assembly’s 243) it had fought in alliance with the JD(U) in October 2005.
The decision came amid speculation that the JD(U) was preparing to browbeat the BJP into accepting much fewer seats in any seat-sharing agreement.
The BJP position is being seen as a victory for hardliners led by state party president C.P. Thakur and a corresponding decline in influence of pro-Nitish BJP leaders such as Deputy CM Sushil Modi and Health Minister Nand Kishore Yadav.
Naidu said the BJP was hurt by Kumar’s decision to return to Gujarat the sum of Rs 5 crore it had given to Bihar as relief for the Kosi flood victims. “The money was not Modi’s. It was from the people of Gujarat for the people of Bihar,” Naidu said.