BJP chief Amit Shah, ending the speculations about the party’s rift with JD(U), on Thursday announced that the alliance in Bihar will contest the next assembly elections under the leadership of JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar.

He also dismissed the bickering between the two parties, saying that it was a sign of healthy coalition.

“The coalition is atal (firm). The NDA will contest assembly polls under the leadership of Nitish Kumar in Bihar. Nationally, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will continue to lead the coalition,” Shah told TV channel News18 while answering the question about if the party is considering to contest the election in state, slated to be held next year, on its own.

Nitish Kumar has been at the receiving end of criticism from some BJP leaders, including Union minister Giriraj Singh. Recently he was targeted for the unprecedented man-made waterlogging in parts of Patna.

Former union minister, Sanjay Paswan had even pitched for Kumar making way for a BJP leader at the helm in state.

“Anban (bickering) is a sign of a healthy coalition. But ‘matbhed’ (difference of opinion) does not necessarily mean there is ‘manbhed’ (disagreements of heart),” Shah added.

After the BJP came back in power in the centre, JD(U) was offered only one ministerial berth in the Modi government which was dissatisfactory to them. Since then, an unease in the alliance has been palpable.

Further, JD(U)’s opposition to legislations on Triple Talaq and scrapping of Article 370 from the state of Jammu and Kashmir fuelled speculations about the differences in the alliance.

National general secretary of JD(U) and state minister in Nitish government, Shyam Rajak took twitter to extend thanks to the BJP chief for clearing speculations about the differences in the alliance.

“We always said there is no confusion over leadership in the NDA. Please go and ask the opposition what they have to say about this since all their hopes have hinged on the possibility of our disunity,” said Union minister, Ram Vilas Paswan.

Paswan’s LJP is a junior alliance in the Bihar NDA government.

JD(U) leader Ajay Alok, who had, of late, become critical of his own party, also appeared sobered down as he tweeted, “Amit Shah’s statement would make the NDA rock solid and disappoint those who had other expectations. Only Nitish Kumar has the capability to further strengthen the NDA.