The Janata Dal (United) on Sunday decided that it will not be a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA anywhere outside Bihar. The JD(U) will now be an NDA ally only in Bihar – where the alliance is in power.
The decision was taken at the party’s National Executive Meet today, which was attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. JD(U) leader and poll strategist Prashant Kishor, too, was present at the meeting.
JD(U) will fight the upcoming elections alone in J-K, Jharkhand, Haryana and Delhi.
The decision came days after Kumar expanded his Cabinet by giving eight ministerial berths to JD(U) leaders, raising questions on the strength of the alliance.
In what some see as a strategic move, Kumar reportedly offered one seat to the BJP – the same number the saffron party allotted to his party during the selection of Union Council of Ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speculations of a rift started doing the rounds after Kumar rejected the BJP’s offer, calling it a “symbolic” representation. He, however, stated that there was no “anger” or “unease” between the parties.
Following the expansion, Kumar repeated that “everything is fine” with the NDA.
The Bihar Chief Minister had reportedly asked for proportional representation on the ground that the JD(U) won 16 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats it contested in Bihar.
The BJP had allotted only one seat to all its allies, which was accepted by everyone except JD(U).
“I spoke to my party leaders and people and they were not agreeing to one berth and the symbolic representation. And this we communicated to them (BJP). They also called up in the morning and then we again conveyed our decision,” said Nitish Kumar while addressing the media in New Delhi on 30 May.
Kumar had then said that all is well with the alliance.
A few days ago, BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh took a jibe at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and other leaders tweeting pictures of them attending ‘Iftar’ parties. BJP president Amit Shah had to call Singh and ask him to avoid making such statements.
Today’s decision came close on the heels of JD(U) vice-president Prashant Kishor’s decision to offer his services as a poll strategist to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the 2021 assembly elections.
Kumar, however, brushed aside Kishor’s decision saying that his services will not be in the capacity of a JD(U) leader.
The BJP has emerged as the main challenger to Banerjee-led TMC in West Bengal.