With the Janata Dal - United staying firm in its opposition to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi being made the National Democratic Alliance's prime ministerial candidate, Bharatiya Janata Party President Rajnath Singh on Saturday gave subtle hints that his party is ready to sort out any issues with its "old ally".
Replying to media queries on the JD-U's reservations on some key political issues, Singh said, "It is a very old ally. If there are any issues, then we will sit together and find a solution to it."
This is the first time the BJP has said it is open to negotiations with its ally JD-U. There is a growing chorus within the BJP for making Modi the prime ministerial candidate, a proposal which the JD-U is opposed to.
Singh's comment shows that the BJP may be open to discussing the issue with JD-U to keep its coalition intact.
At a time when BJP leaders are sending overtures to prospective allies like the Trinamool Congress, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Biju Janata Dal, losing a long-time ally may not be favoured by many within the ranks.
A section of the BJP top brass is also opposed to Modi becoming the PM candidate as they fear this will scare away some possible allies. They fancy their own chances in such a scenario.
On its part, the JD-U has made it clear that only a "secular leader” would be acceptable for the prime ministerial nominee. It has also emphasised that the PM candidate should be declared before the general elections.
The NDA ally is keeping its political options open, with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar saying he will support any formation that gives special category status to his state.
While Singh has said he considers Modi a secular leader, he has remained non-committal on who will be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
Kumar, who is in Delhi to attend the JD-U's National Executive conclave, may hold a meeting with Singh later in the day.