Amid differing claims over seat-sharing in Bihar, BJP President Amit Shah on Thursday met Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and asserted that the NDA will fight jointly and “win all 40 seats” in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Shah and Nitish, along with senior BJP leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad, Radha Mohan Singh, Sushil Modi, Ram Kirpal Yadav, Bhupendra Yadav and others held meetings over breakfast and dinner.
The main message being sent out through these meetings was that of cordiality and bonhomie with Shah later telling party workers that the BJP knows how to respect and work in coordination with allies.
Pictures and video shots of Shah’s breakfast meeting with Nitish showed the two smiling and talking, reportedly, about the prevailing political situation.
This is Shah’s first visit to the State since the dramatic political realignment of last year when Nitish walked out of the Grand Alliance with the RJD and the Congress, and returned to the NDA.
While the ruling alliance partners put up a show of bonhomie, Congress and RJD workers marched the streets with black flags. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav put out an imagined conversation between Shah and Nitish on his Facebook page, where Shah was shown questioning the CM about why he cancelled the June 2010 dinner with Narendra Modi. Tejashwi also underlined Nitish’s vulnerability against the BJP’s relative political strength in Bihar.
“Sources in the BJP say that this party has the memory of an elephant. So who will forget that Sushil Modi projected Nitish Kumar as PM in 2014 and Nitish Kumar repeatedly insulted Modi at the time?” Tejashwi tweeted.
The reference was to the cancellation of a dinner by Nitish for BJP leaders in 2010, an event that ultimately precipitated into the JD(U) walking out of the coalition in July 2013, ending 17 years of association. Nitish had cancelled the dinner that year after a photograph of him holding hands with then Gujarat CM Modi appeared in a number of local newspapers. At the time, Nitish had taken great pains to underline his ideological distance from Modi.
Sources said that the JD(U) wants the BJP and JD(U) to contest 17 seats each while the rest of the six seats can be distributed among other allies, including Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).
Both Paswan and Kushwaha are out of the country and no representative from their parties was seen at the meetings today.