Ending weeks of speculation over a rift in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) camp in Bihar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah said on Thursday the alliance was intact and, with chief minister Nitish Kumar in the fold, would win all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the general elections next year.
Shah’s remarks came at a meeting of party leaders in Patna, soon after his breakfast meeting with Kumar, who is the Janata Dal (United) president.
“Stop salivating. We know how to manage our partners and walk the mile with our friends,” Shah said in an apparent rebuff to opposition parties, who were reportedly trying to court Kumar in the wake of voices of discord over seat-sharing in the NDA.
The BJP functionaries said that Shah was happy with the outcome of his breakfast and dinner meetings with the JD(U) chief. “The meeting has sealed that JD(U) will remain an integral and important ally of the BJP. Issues like seat-sharing will be sorted out amicably,” said a top BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.
The BJP, besides Shah, was represented at Kumar’s dinner by the party’s state president Nityanand Rai, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and other ministers. Unlike the breakfast meeting, where the JD(U) was represented by only Kumar, the dinner was attended by JD(U) Bihar president Bashistha Narain Singh and other senior ministers.
Hitting out at the Opposition for trying to band together to counter the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Shah said: “All the leaders who plan to join hands had fought against us in 2014.”
“We defeated them comprehensively to form the government then. We are going to form a majority government in 2019 as well. The winning spree of our ideology, after initial hiccups, has just begun and it is not going to stop so soon,” he said.
“Only Chandrababu Naidu has left the NDA. But Nitish Kumar has joined us. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the very foundation of politics in the country and replaced the caste, family rule and appeasement oriented rules of the game with development. People will reward him for taking on poverty and delivering on people-centric measures in a short period,” Shah added.
A senior JD(U) leader said the party was “fully satisfied” with Shah’s visit, his public messaging and private meetings. “Shah’s speech was a categorical message to his cadre, to the broad support base of the alliance, and to all voters in the state that we are together. This was needed. Nitish-ji also went out of his way to be a warm host. The two meetings between the leaders within a day signalled warmth and the desire of both parties to make the alliance work,” he said, asking not to be named.
He added that the stage was now set for political negotiations. “Trust is now established. The specifics of the seat-sharing will now be taken up.”
Shah’s hour-long breakfast meeting with Kumar at the state guest house in the morning had earlier set the tone for bonhomie between the two leaders. A smiling Kumar emerged from the meeting and left for his official residence without interacting with the media. About 20 minutes later, Shah, accompanied with state BJP leaders, also left the venue for his scheduled engagements for the day.
The BJP chief’s visit has succeeded in sending out a strong message that all is well in the NDA, a party leader said.
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