JD-U, BJP split imminent

JD-U, BJP split imminent

Nitish seeks independents' support for his govt

JD-U, BJP split imminent

After being shaken by party patriarch L K Advani’s resignation and subsequent capitulation drama, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced fresh troubles on Wednesday as the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) key ally, the Janata Dal-United, threatened to pull out of the coalition over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s appointment as the chief of BJP’s election campaign committee. 

Rifts within the NDA have also stoked political ambitions of certain players, leading to manoeuvres for forging a new coalition comprising non-NDA and non-UPA parties. Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday sent feelers to her Bihar and Odisha counterparts, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik, to form a federal front.

A decision on the split between the JD-U and BJP is expected in a couple of days. The 17-year-old alliance ran into rough weather after efforts to push Modi up the BJP ladder gained momentum. The BJP, however, is trying to keep the coalition intact. NDA working president Advani spoke to both Nitish Kumar and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav to persuade them against quitting the alliance.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain confirmed that Advani had called Kumar and Yadav. “The talks were cordial. It is in Bihar’s interest for the coalition to run. We respect the people’s mandate and running the coalition. That’s  why Advaniji talked to them and we belive that coalition will remain intact,” he told reporters, indicating that the BJP will not be the one to snap the ties first.

The BJP has argued that promoting Modi to head the election campaign committee is an internal matter to which outsiders should not object. Only if the BJP considers projecting him as the prime ministerial candidate can the NDA allies issue a caveat.

The JD-U leaders have been appearing before the media since Tuesday morning, criticising the BJP. Its MPs and MLAs have been asked to stay put in Patna on Friday and Saturday, when a meeting may be held to take a final call on severing ties with the BJP.

Nitish Kumar on Wednesday gave a go-ahead to mobilising independent MLAs to make up for the shortfall in numbers in case of a split and subsequent withdrawal of the BJP from the state government.

The JD-U will be four short of having a simple majority in the Bihar Assembly in case of the BJP’s pull out. R C P Sinha, a close confidant of Kumar, held a meeting with two independent MLAs, who later declared their support to Kumar in case the BJP exits the government.

Pawan Kumar Jaiswal and Binay Bihari confirmed that they would support Kumar as they “did not want Bihar to become a Jharkhand.” They wanted the government to complete its full term.

 The JD-U has 118 MLAs in a House of 243.  The BJP has 91, the RJD 21, the Congress four and the LJP and the CPI one each. There are six independent MLAs.

The party has summoned its MLAs to Patna on June 14 and 15. The exercise is being viewed as a preparation for a formal announcement on the end of the partnership with the BJP.

Decision taken soon

JD-U national spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari made it clear that a decision would be taken in a day or two.

“The BJP naming Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as chief of the party's election campaign for the 2014 elections was an indirect elevation as its prime ministerial candidate. This signifies lot of things and we are taking it seriously. We will take a decision in a day or two,” he said.