The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be readying for single status in Bihar as fissures with its longstanding ally, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal(United), only grow deeper. At a meeting with BJP president Rajnath Singh in New Delhi today, party leaders from the state unit were asked to "strengthen the organization" - a massive hint that the BJP may have to go it alone in the state for the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
"The state leaders briefed central leadership about the current political situation and it was discussed. Party president asked them to strengthen the party organisation in Bihar," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
BJP leaders were also reportedly asked to refrain from name-calling in public. The two allies have been engaged in an increasingly bitter war of words with Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi hitting back at his boss, Nitish Kumar, this week for questioning the "secular credentials of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
This comes on the back of a string of attacks in the last few days by Mr Kumar, who has been unsparing in his criticism of his Gujarat counterpart. The growing speculation of Mr Modi being the BJP's popular choice as the prime ministerial candidate has become a sore point in ties between the two allies in Bihar who have governed the state since 2004.
Mr Kumar has, in an indirect reference to Mr Modi, said that the latter lacks "secular credentials", courtesy the blot of the riots in his state in 2002.
But despite the widening chasm, both partners have, on record, said that the alliance will survive. The JD(U) has given the BJP time till December to make clear its nominee for the prime minister's post; BJP chief Rajnath Singh, too, has also cautiously remarked that he would not want any partner to leave the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that his party leads.