A day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar voiced displeasure over newspaper advertisements showing him with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, pressure was building within his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) party to snap ties with alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Two JD-U MPs -- Monazir Hasan and Rajiv Ranjan -- suggested that the chief minister sever ties with the BJP.
Upset over the advertisement, Nitish Kumar had on Saturday cancelled a dinner he was to host for BJP top leaders, who are in Patna to attend a two-day meeting of the party's national executive. He also threatened legal action against the agency that released the full-page advertisements in vernacular dailies.
Monazir Hasan, JD-U MP from Begusarai, told IANS over telephone on Sunday that it was an opportune time for the party to break off with the BJP and go it alone in the upcoming assembly polls. "The advertisements were part of a big conspiracy to stop the JD-U from coming to power again," Hasan, who is close to Nitish Kumar, said.
Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh, a rebel JD-U MP, said it was a god-sent opportunity for Nitish Kumar to make the move. "The advertisement and the visit of Modi as well as of Varun Gandhi to Bihar, despite reservations expressed by the JD-U, has proved that BJP is playing politics," he said.
Singh, a friend-turned-foe of Nitish Kumar, said: "Nitish Kumar should snap ties with the BJP to go it alone in the October-November assembly polls."
Singh reminded Nitish Kumar that BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers welcomed Modi and Varun Gandhi by shouting slogans like "Jai Shri Ram" when they arrived in the city Saturday morning. "By inviting Modi and Varun, the BJP is eager to experiment the Gujarat agenda of hatred politics," Singh said.
Former Bihar chief minister and senior JD-U leader Jagannath Mishra said Nitish Kumar should seriously think whether to continue with the BJP.
"I supported Nitish Kumar's decision to cancel the dinner for BJP leaders," Mishra said.
On Saturday, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad dared Nitish Kumar to break off with the BJP and come clean if he wanted to hold on to his secular credentials.
Besides the RJD, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders have also targeted the chief minister saying that the controversy has "exposed his true face".
The advertisement, published in the name of dozens of people of Bihar who are now settled in Gujarat, projected Modi as a close friend of Nitish Kumar and highlighted the Gujarat government's generous help after the 2008 Kosi floods in Bihar.
Nitish Kumar said he was stunned on seeing the advertisement.