PATNA: Amid reports of widening differences between the two allies, BJP president Amit Shah will hold discussions with Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over breakfast and dinner during his visit to Patna on Thursday.
This would be Shah's first visit to Bihar, which comes months after Kumar's JD(U) rejoined the NDA last year and also assumes significance in the backdrop of repeated assertions by spokesmen of the JD(U) that it was the "elder brother" in the coalition and should get the lion's share of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
According to a state BJP release, Shah will arrive in Patna at 10 am.
From the airport, he will proceed to the state guest house where he will "have breakfast with Nitish Kumar and other senior leaders".
"After hectic day-long activities, Shah will have dinner at the Chief Minister's Official residence," the release said.
"Shah's Bihar tour will be grand and historic. Under his leadership, the party has emerged as the largest political outfit in the world," BJP state president Nityanand Rai was quoted as having said in the release.
The BJP president's Bihar visit is considered important from point of view of finding a way out to the prickly issue of seat-sharing among NDA partners for next year's Lok Sabha election.
The NDA which had won 31 seats in Bihar is witnessing claims and counter-claims made by leaders of NDA constituents after JD(U) returned to its fold.
Old partners - BJP, LJP and RLSP - had won 22, 6 and 3 seats respectively while JD(U) which had fought separately with the Left parties had managed only two seats in the last parliamentary poll.
Putting an end to all speculations, the Janata Dal-United had last week said that it will not part ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and will remain a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The decision was taken at the national executive meeting of the party, chaired by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in New Delhi on July 8. Several issues such as 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 2020 Bihar Assembly elections were discussed during the JDU national executive, said reports.
A day later, Nitish Kumar clarified that the two parties will work together only inside the state.
Addressing media persons, the Chief Minister said, “We (JDU and BJP) are working together in Bihar but when it comes to outside Bihar there are no discussions like that. There has not been an alliance like that at the national level.”
When asked about the possibility of the JDU going along with the Mahagathbandhan, comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, Nitish Kumar said that “it isn’t possible to get together with some other party at some other place”.
All this came amid repeated attacks on Nitish Kumar by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav over reports of differences between the JDU and the BJP.
On several occasions, the Yadav scion has said that the doors of Mahagathbandhan, comprising the RJD and the Congress, are closed for Nitish. Accusing the Chief Minister of ditching the Mahagathbandhan and people of Bihar by joining hands with the BJP, Tejashwi has said that Nitish Kumar “cannot be trusted”.
(With PTI inputs)