Unease in BJP, JD-U ranks in Bihar

Patna, April 15 (IANS) The equation between Bihar’s ruling parties was uneasy Monday with JD-U leaders backing Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in pushing for a secular candidate for prime minister while the BJP brass maintained that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi could not be sacrificed for the sake of the alliance.

A day after Nitish Kumar targeted Modi without naming him and said it would not compromise on the issue of a secular leader for the top job, the battlelines were drawn.

Bihar Animal Husbandry Minister Griraj Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party said Nitish Kumar’s tone was not good for the health of the alliance.

“We will not accept such language and tolerate such politics,” Giriraj Singh, a hard core champion of Hindutva in Bihar, told IANS over the phone.

Another BJP minister, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, said party workers and leaders were wholeheartedly with Modi. “There is no question of acceptability of BJP minus Modi,” Choubey said.

A senior BJP legislator added on the condition of anonymity that most party workers and leaders were unhappy with the way Nitish Kumar had attacked Modi.

“One thing is clear, the mood is in favour of Modi in Bihar,” he said, adding that the popular sentiment was to choose Modi over Nitish Kumar or his Janata Dal-United.

Senior JD-U leader and minister Shyam Razak retorted that it was for the BJP to decide what it wanted.

“Nitish Kumar has not named anyone in his speech, but our stand is clear. The party is for a secular prime minister, acceptable to all,” Razak said.

His colleague Vijay Choudhary told newspersons here that the party had not named Modi. “We have not named Modi, then why so much hue and cry,” he asked.

“The JD-U has been stressing on issues instead of personality. No leader of our party attacked the Gujarat chief minister by naming him. The blame game is the result of media reports,” said JD-U MP Monazir Hasan, who arrived here after attending the two-day meeting of the party in Delhi.

Another JD-U leader, Neeraj Kumar, who is also party spokesperson and is considered close to Nitish Kumar, said the JD-U and BJP were alliance partners and would continue to be so.

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