Two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah sought to end speculation over the BJP's alliance with the Janata Dal in Bihar by confirming Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would lead the parties in Assembly polls scheduled for next year, state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal, in a statement that appears to raise the question of seat-sharing for state elections, has demanded the Chief Minister "show big heart by making a similar announcement".
"We have shown heart by conceding even our sitting seats in parliamentary elections and agreed to contest equal number of seats (17). We expect him to show big heart by making a similar announcement," Sanjay Jaiswal told NDTV.
However, Mr Jaiswal was quick to add that seat-sharing announcements would be finalised and announced by the top leadership of both parties.
By highlighting the seat-sharing agreement the two parties had for Lok Sabha elections, the BJP likely expects Nitish Kumar will not demand a greater share of seats in the two parties' agreement for state elections.
In 2015 polls, which the JDU fought with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the two parties contested 101 seats each (the JDU won 71 and the RJD 80) despite the RJD having only 22 MLAs at the time. The BJP, which contested 157 seats in an alliance with the LJP and others, won only 53.
Sanjay Jaiswal's statement also assumes significance because before Amit Shah spoke on the BJP-JDU alliance, Mr Jaiswal declared that comments by BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh were his personal opinion. Mr Jaiswal also said only statements he or the BJP spokesperson made were reflective of the party's position.
Relations between the BJP and JDU, already strained, worsened after heavy rain flooded Bihar and left large parts of the capital, Patna, under water. The disaster also led to an outbreak of dengue with more than 1,500 people affected. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, already under fire from BJP leaders in the state, including Giriraj Singh, found his position under threat.
Earlier this month sources said he had been asked to call off his attacks on Nitish Kumar and other JDU leaders after the floods.
However, on Wednesday Amit Shah declared, in an interview with News18, that the BJP-JDU alliance in Bihar would not change leadership.
"The Janata Dal (United) and the BJP will go to polls together and we will fight polls under the leadership of Nitish ji. This is absolutely clear," Mr Shah said.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.