Patna: Tension between Bihar's ruling parties is escalating by the day with both the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) preparing their workers for a split.
In the last few days, senior JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as well as BJP's national general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy and its state president Mangal Pandey have given clear indications of their parties going it alone in the next general elections, and have called on their party workers to gear up for it. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.
"Party workers should remain united and be prepared to face any eventuality in view of fast changing political situation in the country," Nitish Kumar said Monday at a meeting of a JD-U cell of extremely backward castes and Mahadalits at Rajgir in Nalanda district. Both segments are considered the backbone of his support base in the state.
Before that, Nitish Kumar said Sunday: "The political situation may change any time. The time has come now for displaying rock like solidarity as in the past."
Rudy also gave ample hints of the road ahead for his partymen. He did not name long time ally JD-U but said in what is being seen as a message to his party workers: "People will not pardon the ally which would desert it (alliance)."
His colleague Pandey has said: "Under the present political scenario, we have to be ready to face any situation."
A senior JD-U leader, considered close to Nitish Kumar, said party leaders were reading the writing on the wall following differences over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP being pitched as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"None other than Nitish Kumar has directed some party senior leaders, including ministers, to be ready to contest Lok Sabha polls alone in view of the firm stance to not compromise on Modi," he said.
Another JD-U leader, seeking not to be named, said the party has instructed some leaders to get ready to contest from the constituencies currently held by the BJP. These include Bhagalpur, won by BJP's Syed Shahnawaz Hussain in 2009; Patna Saheb, represented by Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha; and Darbhanga, represented by cricketer Kirti Azad.
According to JD-U leaders, party ministers like Brishen Patel, P.K. Shahi, Vijay Choudhary, Renu Kumari Kushwaha, Parween Amanullah, Sahid Ali Khan and Shayam Razak have been directed to identify constituencies and start work to contest polls in case the BJP goes ahead with Modi as its prime ministerial candidate in 2014 polls.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the JD-U and the BJP contested the polls together, winning 32 of the 40 seats from Bihar. While the JD-U won 20, the BJP bagged 12.
The BJP now seems equally prepared for the parting of way with the JD-U. "Our leaders and workers are working in the field in all 40 seats," said a BJP leader. "The party has no problem in facing elections alone."
The equation between the two parties has been on a downslide since Nitish Kumar attacked Modi without naming him in a rally in New Delhi. He questioned the tainted image of Modi in view of his alleged role in the 2002 riots.