The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday failed to reach a decision on the fate of its troubled alliance with JD(U) in Bihar but indicated it favoured continuance of ties with its old ally without compromising on self-respect.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari held a meeting with the Core Group of the party's Bihar unit in New Delhi late Tuesday on ties with JD(U) which reached a brink after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar gave vent to his anger over an advertisement showing him shaking hands with his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi.
"No decision on the fate of the alliance between BJP and JD(U) in Bihar has been taken," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters after the meeting.
He dismissed as "mere speculation" reports appearing in the media about the imminent breakdown in relations between the two NDA allies.
Hussain said BJP favoured continuance of the alliance with JD(U) for the development of Bihar but would not compromise on self-respect.
"The party president heard the views of the Bihar unit leaders seriously and has taken the decision that he will present their views to the Central leaders," he said.
With Gadkari leaving for Nagpur tomorrow, Hussain said the BJP president will meet the party central leaders only on Thursday.
"The party president has decided that he will take a decision on the matter only after apprising the central leaders of the views of the Bihar unit and consulting the former on the issue," Hussain said.
Though some BJP leaders from Bihar favour snapping of ties with JD(U) ahead of this year-end's assembly elections in the state, the general opinion among the party top brass at the state and the national levels is that the alliance should continue.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani and his close associates favour continuance of the 15-year-old ties with JD(U). Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi as well as leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad, among others, shares this opinion.
Newly-appointed Bihar unit Chief C P Thakur is keeping his cards close to his chest. He has said the alliance should continue but in case BJP is forced to go it alone, the party is ready. His only condition all along in this crisis has been that a decision either way should be taken within a fortnight.
The meeting, chaired by Gadkari, was attended by BJP spokespersons Ravi Shankar Prasad and Hussain, Thakur, party general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan, general secretary (Organisation) Ramlal, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, Ashwini Choubey and Health Minister Nand Kishore Yadav.
The crisis between the two allies broke out when Nitish Kumar objected to an advertisement in local newspapers of Patna on June 12 thanking Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for extending relief for victims of Kosi flood in Bihar in 2008. Kumar also expressed his resentment over another advertisement showing him shaking hands with Narendra Modi.
Kumar hit back by returned Rs 5 crore of flood relief money to Gujarat last Saturday.
Reports that the Bihar Chief Minister does not want Narendra Modi and Varun Gandhi to campaign in the state for the Assembly polls today created fresh strains in JD(U)-BJP alliance with the saffron party leaders asserting that they cannot be dictated to.
Adding to the strain, Kumar sent a Bihar police team to to Surat to inquire into the advertisements put out in Patna newspapers about Gujarat government's Kosi flood relief aid to Bihar but recalled it after the step drew angry reaction from BJP.
On a day when the leaders of the core group of BJP's Bihar unit met four ministers of the party attended a Cabinet meeting chaired by Kumar in a sign that things have not reached a breaking point.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, who had called off a joint appearance with Kumar for the 'Vishwas Yatra' on Sunday, met Advani. He was accompanied by party Ravi Shankar Prasad who also hails from Bihar.