The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) announced its decision to sever ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday, ending a 17-year-old alliance and drawing clearer battle lines ahead of national elections less than a year away.
The ties ended over the projection of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a BJP strongman seen by many as somewhat a divisive leader, as the face of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2014 general elections.
The decision to part ways was announced by JD-U chief Sharad Yadav along with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.
Kumar´s government in Bihar will now have to face a trust vote in the state legislature, scheduled on Wednesday, to prove a majority.
Even as he announced the split, Kumar trained guns on Modi as he said, "To be named Prime Minister, you need more than 270 votes."
JD-U president Sharad Yadav, who also announced to step down as the NDA convenor, said, "Taking all things into account that our paths are now different, from today JD-U is out of the NDA alliance."
He said there were ups and downs in the relationship but it was increasingly becoming difficult since "this is not the Atal Bihar Advani and LK Advani time."
"We made all efforts," he said, adding that "we have tried to stick to the framework of the NDA but in the past six to seven month situation was different."
Immediately after the press conference, BJP senior leader Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "The break up of NDA is sad and unfortunate."
The BJP however put up a brave face as it held on to its decision to pitch Modi as the top leader for the coming elections.
"Whether one alliance breaks or ten, we will not re-think our decision on Modi," said BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
BJP president Rajnath Singh said, "We did not want to break the alliance. Hum dhokha kha sakte hain par dhokha de nahin sakte (We never betray people even though they may betray us). I am saddened by it. The 2002 riots were unfortunate but how is Narendra Modi responsible for it?"
Speaking at the press conference, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the party cannot compromise on fundamental principles.
"Our stand from beginning were based on fundamental principles and based on that we took this decision. We cannot compromise with fundamental principles," said Kumar.
In New Delhi, the Congress welcomed the split as party General Secretary Shakeel Ahmad said, "We congratulate Nitish Kumarji to have come out of an alliance that wasn´t working in the interest of the country."
Trinamool Congress leader Trinamool Congress leader said, "I won´t say that it is a split. It will strengthen federal front in future. It is being discussed from past seven days. Somebody is leading from some regions."
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) President Lalu Prasad Yadav said, "Their love marriage was a mismatch and they have taken the advantage of an opportunist."
Nitish Kumar earlier met Bihar Governor DY Patil on Sunday afternoon and informed him that the JD(U) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) alliance is over in the state.
He sought for a special session in the Assembly to prove his majority in the legislature.
"We have decided to hold a vote of confidence in Bihar assembly on June 19," he said.
Kumar also took recourse to a popular Hindi movie song "Samjhnewale Samajh gaye hain, Jo Na Samjhe woh Anari hain" to express why they had to split instead of naming Narendra Modi.
Kumar, however, said he would not use harsh words against BJP in Bihar with whom he was running an alliance.
Earlier in the day, the BJP ministers in Bihar had skipped the cabinet meeting called by Nitish Kumar. Instead, the party is meeting at Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi´s residence in Patna.
"What is the point in a cabinet meeting now? Nitish Kumar will have to clarify his plans for alliance first," Bihar BJP President Mangal Pandey had said.
The buzz of JD-U calling off its alliance with the BJP was doing the rounds after Kumar convened a meeting with senior JD-U leaders in Patna on Tuesday evening and asked them to not leave the city for consultation in this matter.
The JD-U leaders have reportedly been asked to even contact independent MLAs and garner their support in JD-U´s favour.
With the elevation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the chief of the election campaign committee, the JD-U has pepped up its attack on BJP and is considering the fact to break its alliance with BJP.
"We cannot compromise with the rioters of 2002," senior JD-U minister Narendra Singh earlier told media referring to Gujarat´s 2002 communal riots during Modi´s first term as CM, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed.
Singh said JD-U is not pleased with Modi´s leadership and will soon announce their decision according to the demand of the situation.