The BJP has given the reins of the 2014 election to a tainted person and we will not tolerate it, says JD(U) Minister Narendra Singh
The rapidly souring relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United) touched a new low on Wednesday with the JD(U) making it clear that a final split was inevitable. An unrelenting JD(U) remained firm on a separation, even as the BJP made feeble noises about staying together.
On a day marked by hectic developments, JD(U) leaders launched a fresh attack on Narendra Modi. Senior JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari said Mr. Modi was “maligning” the image of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“Mr. Modi pays obeisance to Sardar Patel. This is just a political gimmick. If Mr. Patel were the Home Minister during 2002, he would not have let Mr. Modi continue in Gujarat,” Mr. Tiwari told reporters.
On the other hand, JD(U) minister Narendra Singh raised the hackles of the BJP by terming Mr. Modi “a rioter and tainted person.”
“We will never agree to back a rioter. The BJP has given the reins of the 2014 election to a tainted person and the JD(U) will not tolerate it,” Mr. Singh said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked JD(U) MLAs to camp in Patna ahead of an expected announcement. He has been meeting the party cadre over the past few days to assess their opinion, JD(U) sources told The Hindu.
“By appointing Mr. Modi as their poll panel head, the BJP has indirectly endorsed his candidature for the prime ministerial post. Therefore, the matter is settled now. There is no debate. The unanimous opinion among party leaders and cadre is that it is high time to snap ties. There is no point in staying with the BJP. Any more delay would simply mean losing time,” a key JD(U) source told The Hindu.
Party sources said that the JD(U) had given the BJP time till the end of December to declare its candidate. But the tone and tenor of the Goa meet came as a shock.
“In our national executive meet, we had told them to announce their PM candidate. We gave them time so as not be accused of breathing downs their necks. Mr. Kumar’s stand on Mr. Modi was clear from day one. Mr. Modi was not allowed to campaign in Bihar for the same reason,” party sources told The Hindu.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi’s invitation to Mr. Narendra Modi to address a rally in Patna on October 27 also irked the JD(U), which felt the writing on the wall was clear enough.
Asked if L.K. Advani’s olive branch would placate Mr. Kumar and bring about a rethink in the JD(U), party sources said, “What is there to salvage? Can the BJP say that Mr. Modi will not be their PM candidate? And we go only by what Rajnath Singh says.”
Mr. Tiwari also dismissed the BJP’s appeals saying, “If the BJP really cared about us, they would not have made Mr. Modi the election campaign head given our strong reservations. Their concern is just a farce.”
With the festering situation, the BJP camp in Bihar also went into a huddle at the Deputy Chief Minister’s residence to discuss the implications of a possible split. BJP State president Mangal Pandey said though the alliance was beneficial for both parties, the statement from JD(U) leaders went against coalition ethics.
“We object to the statements of the JD(U) leaders against our leader Narendra Modi. We condemn them. They are against the public sentiments. We wish this alliance stays. The alliance was formed on a common minimum programme in Bihar, which received the people’s mandate. We want to honour the people’s wishes,” Mr. Pandey told The Hindu after the meeting.
He said his party had to meet owing to the “unnatural activities” in the past few days.
The BJP too has started to crack under relentless indications and statements of the JD(U) about calling it quits. Chandra Mohan Rai, a Minister from the BJP, said on Wednesday that the BJP was ready to sit in the Opposition. “Since the BJP has not yet decided a PM candidate, Mr. Kumar will be responsible if the alliance ends,” he said.
Mr. Kumar remained tight-lipped on the issue. The Deputy Chief Minister has backed Narendra Modi’s leadership for the 2014 polls.
Despite bringing things to such a pass, Mr. Kumar is dilly-dallying on the decision to end the 17-year-old alliance.
“The BJP is cooling down. Mr. Advani has spoken to Mr. Kumar and Sharad Yadav. We will wait and watch if the bitterness is reduced,” a JD(U) minister said.
Asked why the JD(U) is putting off an announcement if it is has made up its mind to snap ties, Mr. Tiwari told The Hindu, “We have to follow a certain process. When Mr. Kumar returns from his yatra on Friday, Sharad Yadav [JD(U) president] will come to Patna. There will be a decision in two to three days.”
On the possibility of JD(U) joining a third front, Mr. Tiwari said, “Right now we are just talking.”
BJP president Rajnath Singh is also slated to come to Patna on June 23 to address party workers.