NEW DELHI: BJP Wednesday sent mixed signals to its ally JD(U) by making it clear that conditions like keeping Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Varun Gandhi away from the election campaign in Bihar for continuance of the coalition were not acceptable to it.
At the same time, the party is keen that the alliance between the two parties should continue in their mutual interest, reliable party sources said.
The party said the reason behind Mr Kumar returning rupees five crore of flood relief fund to Gujarat was still unknown to it and JD(U)’s behaviour had "hurt" the feelings of the party.
The two issues dominated the meeting between BJP president Mr Nitin Gadkari and Core Group of the party’s Bihar unit Tuesday night. Though both the Central and the state leaders are in favour of continuing the alliance, they do not want to be seen as compromising on their self-respect, the sources said.
BJP sources said Mr Kumar’s condition that Mr Modi and Mr Gandhi should keep out of campaigning in Bihar for the Assembly elections later this year was conveyed by some middle-rung JD(U) leaders
to the party.
Senior BJP leaders have formally conveyed to Mr Kumar today that such conditions were not acceptable to it and that the party would decide who its campaigners would be, the sources said.
"BJP and JD(U) are keen to run a good government and serve the people. That unfortunate incident (involving the advertisement showing Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Modi and the reaction of Kumar) was avoidable," senior BJP leader Mr M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters on Wednesday.
Echoing similar sentiments, BJP spokesperson Mr Shahnawaz Hussain
said, "We want to continue with the coalition for the development
of Bihar but will not compromise on self-respect,"
Mr Naidu also raised the issue of Mr Kumar returning the flood relief fund to Gujarat after an advertisement appeared in local newspapers of Patna thanking Mr Modi for the help.
"We do not know the reason why rupees five crore was returned. The money does not belong to Narendra Modi and it was not given to Nitish Kumar…. We don’t know why it was returned. We are hurt by that," Mr Naidu said.
He stated that the money belonged to the people of Gujarat and was given to Bihar for flood relief.
For the record, Mr Naidu said all reports of conditions being put by JD(U) for continuing with the alliance were media speculation and were being unnecessarily played up.
BJP leaders feel accepting this condition about Mr Modi would dent its position in the NDA as the Gujarat Chief Minister is being projected as a national leader.
"Other NDA allies may also start saying Modi is not acceptable to them and this will create further problems," a senior BJP MP said.
The party also sees this as a test case for Mr Modi’s acceptance at the national level ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.