‘Alliance is dead, last rites pending’;BJP ministers refuse to meet Nitish

The National Democratic Alliance in Bihar is headed for a split as communication between its two warring partners, Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party, has broken down.

Consequently, the JD(U) is expected to make an announcement on Sunday in the presence of its chief Sharad Yadav.

Mr. Yadav arrived in Patna in the evening and met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the latter’s residence. He refused to comment on a likely split. “I will speak after discussions,” was all he said at the airport before heading straight to Mr. Kumar’s house.

“The alliance is dead, only the last rites are remaining to be performed,” a key JD(U) source told The Hindu. Mr. Yadav’s role here would only be to officially endorse Mr. Kumar’s landmark decision to part ways with the party’s 17-year-old ally.

JD(U) State president Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu: “The situation is definitely serious. There is no solution in sight. It seems turning back is difficult now.”

Senior party leader Shivanand Tiwari said: “Technically, there is no need for any meeting. The announcement of a split is a mere formality. It has come from the horse’s mouth. Now where is the scope for any reconciliation or patch-up? The only reason to turn back will be Rajnath Singh declaring that Narendra Modi will not be the prime ministerial candidate.”

Mr. Kumar’s statements earlier sealed the NDA’s fate, leaving no room for pulling both parties from the brink.

In a statement to a newspaper, Mr. Kumar said the BJP must “publicly declare” that Mr. Modi would not be prime ministerial candidate. A day earlier, too, he made no effort to ease the strain in the ties when he described the situation as “tough” and even took a dig at the BJP.

Faced with losing the reins of power, the BJP conducted a series of hectic parleys at Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi’s house. Stung by the JD(U)’s continuous attacks, BJP ministers drove the last nail into the coffin by spurning an invitation of Mr. Kumar for talks at his residence on Saturday morning.

Mr. Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav, minister and NDA convener, refused to attend the meeting, saying they were not authorised to speak on the issues on the agenda.

“The meeting was called to discuss who will be the prime ministerial candidate and when he will be declared. However, there is no point in attending this meeting. We communicated to Mr. Kumar that the matter is not within the purview of the State BJP. Only our national leadership is authorised to discuss and decide such matters,” Mr. Yadav told The Hindu.