Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has finally broken his silence after one of his senior party leaders criticised him for forming an alliance with the BJP for the Delhi Assembly election.

Former Janata Dal (United) minister Pavan K Varma, in a public letter to Kumar, had on Tuesday confessed that he is “perplexed” with the decision of JD(U) to fight the Delhi election in alliance with the BJP, given the CM’s own views on the saffron party and the massive national outrage against the divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme.

Responding to the criticism, Nitish Kumar on Thursday told reporters: “If anyone has any issues then the person can discuss it within party or at party meetings, but such kind of public statements are surprising.”

He added that if the JD(U) leader is not happy, he “can join any party he likes”. “My best wishes,” he added.

“On more than one occasion, you have expressed your grave apprehensions about the BJP-RSS combine,” Varma said in the letter and asked the Chief Minister to provide an “ideological clarity” in the matter.

He stated that when Nitish Kumar was leading the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, the CM himself had “openly made a call for ‘RSS Mukt Bharat’”.

Pavan Varma further said that although JD(U) has been in an alliance with the BJP, Nitish Kumar has been of the opinion that the “saffron party is leading India into a dangerous space”.

“If these are your real views, I fail to understand how the JDU is now extending its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar, when even long standing allies of the BJP, like the Akali Dal, have refused to do so,” he wrote in a letter which has also been posted on Twitter.

Further, the JD(U) leader stressed for harmony between the party’s constitution, its chief’s private conviction and its actions taken in public.

The senior leader’s questioning on alliance comes in the wake of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of Punjab, BJP’s long-standing ally decided to stay away from the Delhi Assembly election slated to be held on February 8.

The Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which is in alliance with the BJP in Haryana, has also declared that it will not fight the Assembly polls in alliance with the saffron party.

A day after the party’s national general secretary Pavan Varma sought “ideological clarifications” from party president Nitish Kumar over his move to enter into alliance with the BJP outside Bihar after bitterly criticising the top BJP leadership, on Wednesday it was the turn of JD(U) vice-president Prashant Kishor to launch a frontal attack on Union home minister Amit Shah over the contentious issues. Kishor is just next to the chief minister in the party hierarchy and that is why much importance is being attached to his open criticisms.

The ruling JD(U), led by Kumar, has got vertically split over the contentious issues of the Citizenship Act and the NRC with one section supporting them and another vociferously opposing them in public.