The dramatic way in which Bihar Chief Minister has sought to distance himself from Narendra Modi has once again thrown a question mark over the long-term prospects of the electoral alliance between the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP.

Indeed, even as the BJP’s national conclave on Sunday went about its normal business of passing resolutions, the big question party managers were asking themselves was whether Mr. Kumar was signalling his readiness to test Bihar’s electoral grounds on his own. As the State slowly heads for the Assembly elections, is the JD(U) getting ready to do to the BJP what Naveen Patnaik did to it in Orissa in 2009?

Some would like to forget Mr. Kumar’s public display of anger at the projection of the Gujarat Chief Minister through full-page colour advertisements in almost all newspapers that have Patna editions. But it would seem the BJP was also in no mood to cower before the JD(U) boss in this State. Sunday morning too saw newspapers carry full-page advertisements drumbeating Mr. Modi’s achievements in Gujarat. And if this was not enough, Mr. Modi declared at a public rally in the city that the State had been left as one big pit by the Rashtriya Janata Dal government of Lalu Prasad and in this one term of office the Bihar government (of Nitish Kumar) was able to “fill the pit.” The BJP needed one more term of office to do some more work.

He also rubbed more salt into the open wound in the relationship of the two parties by talking about the leap forward in development made in his State — 24x7 electricity in all Gujarat villages (when power shortage is a huge sore point in Bihar). He also had a dig at the Bihar Chief Minister when he said political parties must give up vote-bank politics and focus on development, the ‘mantra’ the BJP has taken up as its own.

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