The Janata Dal-United on Wednesday expelled its dissident leaders Prashant Kishor and Pavan Varma, capping months of their bitter differences with its president and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar over the Narendra Modi government's citizenship measures, including the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Showing the door to its vice president Kishor, the party accused him of using "insulting" words against Kumar as well as not adhering to party discipline and abusing the "respect" given to him by the JD-U president.
Announcing the expulsion of both Kishor and party general secretary Varma, a JD-U statement, issued by its chief general secretary K C Tyagi, said the conduct of both leaders in the recent past has made it clear that they don't want to abide by the "party's discipline and worked against its decisions and functioning".
The two leaders have often spoken against the CAA and the National Population Register with Varma publicly questioning Kumar over his ideology.
The JD-U is supporting these measures.
Tyagi said,"loyalty to party's discipline, decision and leadership is the organisation's basic mantra."
The two expelled leaders were quick to take a dig at Kumar, with Kishor offering his "best wishes" to him to "retain the chair of chief minister of Bihar" and Varma wishing him well in his "ambition of being CM of Bihar at any cost".
The expulsion came a day after the rift between Kumar and Kishor came out in open with the Bihar chief minister saying that the poll strategist was inducted in the party at the prodding of Union home minister and former BJP president Amit Shah, a remark which received a sharp retort from Kishor.
"What a fall for you to lie about how and why you made me join JD(U)! Poor attempt on your part to try and make my colour same as yours! And if you are telling the truth who would believe that you still have courage not to listen to someone recommended by Amit Shah," Kishor had tweeted.
Hitting back, the JD-U statement said,"It is imperative that Kishor be removed from the party so that he doesn't fall any lower."
With both leaders critical of the Modi government's citizenship measures, their removal from the JD-U will please the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has already announced that their alliance will fight under Kumar's leadership in the Bihar assembly polls slated for later this year.
JD-U leaders said Kishor's continuance in the party had become untenable after his tweet on Tuesday.
The JD-U statement also said that both have been acting against its decisions and functioning which, it added, amounted to breach of discipline.
"The Janata Dal-United relieves Prashant Kishor and Pavan Varma of their primary memberships and all responsibilities with immediate effect," it said.
The party said Kishor made a number of "controversial" statements in the recent months, a reference to his digs at Shah and his frequent criticism of the CAA and asking the opposition parties to unite against it even though the JD-U as a BJP ally had backed it in Parliament.
Kishor had, however, unlike Varma refrained from directly targeting Kumar before his stinging attack on him on Tuesday.
Varma, the JD-U said, received more respect from Kumar than he "deserved" but he instead of appreciating it thought it was the party's compulsion.
Referring to his open letters to Kumar in which he often questioned the Bihar chief minister's ideology, the JD-U said the party runs with collective responsibility but some people suffer from the "delusion" that their ideas can run it.
In a tweet soon after his expulsion, Varma said, "Thank you Nitish Kumar ji for freeing me from my increasingly untenable position of defending you and your policies. I wish you well in your ambition of being CM of Bihar at any cost."
Both Kishor and Varma came from apolitical background.
Kishor made a name as a professional poll strategist after his involvement in Narendra Modi's successful campaign as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
He was also seen as a key force in sealing Kumar's alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 2015 and then with the BJP in 2017 before joining the JD-U and being made its vice president.
Varma, a former diplomat, was sent to Rajya Sabha by the party as Kumar felt that he could be useful as an articulate voice in the national capital.
Their expulsion from the party will be seen as a victory for its seasoned hands like Lalan Singh and R C P Singh who had not taken kindly to the rise of Kishor in the party and believed that his and Varma's outspoken views ill-served its interests.