Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s thumbs down to projecting his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi as potential prime minister candidate ahead of the 2014 general elections has triggered a rift in the BJP state unit, casting a shadow over the NDA.
While moderates in the BJP are endorsing JD(U)leader Kumar’s “secular-face-for-PM” view, the hardliners are backing their party’s Gujarat strongman, even suggesting withdrawing from the government in Bihar.
The moderates are deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi campers, while the hardliners have the backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is considered the ideological guide of the BJP.
Both factions met at the deputy CM’s house on Wednesday to find common ground, but remained stuck with opposing views.
“The NDA in Bihar has worked well. It needs to be replicated at the national level,” said a BJP minister who backs the deputy CM. Animal husbandry minister Giriraj Singh, however, said the BJP could not allow the JD(U) to dictate terms on “every issue”.
The JD(U) has 118 MLAs in the 243-member Bihar assembly and if the BJP, which has 91 MLAs, withdraws support, Kumar would need the backing of only four MLAs to remain in power.