JD-U, BJP inching towards snapping ties

Patna/New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) The rift in Bihar's ruling alliance sharpened Saturday with the BJP telling Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to quit and order fresh polls if he decided to break the partnership, while the JD-U continued to attack Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and said the split was a "mere formality".

A final decision on the 17-year-old alliance is expected Sunday after Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav holds parleys with Nitish Kumar and other leaders in Patna, party sources said.

"All is not well (in the alliance). There are problems. We are trying to work on them. We will decide in the party meeting," said Yadav.

The BJP said it was awaiting a formal decision from the JD-U.

"We are awaiting their decision. We want to continue the alliance in the interest of the people of the state," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, while state party unit chief Mangal Pandey sought a clarification from the JD-U on the future of the alliance.

As tensions mounted, the BJP demanded Nitish Kumar resign and seek a fresh mandate if the JD-U walks out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

"Nitish Kumar should resign as chief minister because people of the state gave the mandate to the NDA," said Bihar BJP minister Chandra Mohan Rai.

BJP leader and MP Hukumdeo Narain Yadav also said that Nitish Kumar "should resign and go for fresh elections (if the alliance breaks)".

Pandey also said that people of the state have voted for ruling alliance, not only JD-U.

"In 2005 and 2010 state assembly polls, people have voted for the alliance of BJP-JD-U...it was not only a vote for JD-U," Pandey told media persons after holding a meeting of party leaders, including legislators, here at Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi's official residence in Patna.

Pandey contended that even JD-U is divided over ending the alliance with the BJP.

"JD-U president Sharad Yadav has been repeatedly trying to save the alliance and saying that there is hope for alliance. But some local JD-U leaders are saying the alliance is over or likely to end," he said.

The JD-U, meanwhile, accused the BJP of forcing it to walk out of the alliance by not being forthcoming on Narendra Modi's future role.

"We have been asking them for a clear answer whether Narendra Modi will be the prime ministerial candidate," senior JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari told reporters, adding: "The BJP has forced us to walk out of the alliance."

The announcement of a split in the coalition was a "mere formality", said Tiwari while terming Modi an "arrogant" and "divisive personality" who cannot take all sections along.

"Modi is an arrogant person and this reflects from his personality... his divisive attitude is too well known," he added.

Indicating serious differences between the parties, Sushil Modi refused to meet Nitish Kumar in Patna. Till recently they were considered close.

BJP ministers in Bihar have not attended office for the past two days.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad attacked his Nitish Kumar, accusing him of trying to poach legislators from other parties while alleging the JD-U was on the verge of breaking up as over 50 of its legislators were set to join the BJP.

"The JD-U will break and more than 50 of its legislators will join the BJP soon," he told the media in Patna.

"He (Nitish Kumar) is not loyal...he is opposing Narendra Modi to attract Muslim voters. He is poaching MLAs (legislators) from other parties," he told reporters.

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