The Janata Dal United -- which is bracing for a triangular contest in many of the Bihar's 243 assembly seats following the exit of its estranged ally LJP from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state -- has expelled 15 of its senior regional leaders for anti-party activities, just days before the elections. Those dismissed from the party for six years include a sitting MLA, former lawmakers and ex chiefs of several district units.
"Janata Dal (United)'s state chief, MP, Mr Bashistha Narain Singh has suspended the 15 leaders from the party's primary membership for six years, for anti-party activities," the JDU said in a statement.
Those sacked from the party include sitting Dumraon MLA Dadan Singh Yadav, former state ministers Rameshwar Paswan and Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha, and former MLA Ranvijay Singh.
The party's action comes just days after its ally, the BJP, expelled the eight rebels who quit to join Chirag Paswan's LJP.
Mr Paswan, 37, after several months of acrimony with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has announced that his party will field candidates against the Janata Dal United but not against the BJP. He earlier said he would not contest the election with the JDU but claimed that his LJP remained a "strong" partner of the BJP.
The BJP, last week, however, said LJP was not a part of the alliance in Bihar.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, the BJP's senior-most leader in the state, said only the BJP, the JDU, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and the VIP of Mukesh Sahni were part of the NDA.
"If we get a majority, then only Nitish Kumar will be Chief Minister. There should be no confusion on that front," he said, after reports that Mr Kumar had been upset with the party's inaction against Mr Paswan for his attacks on the JDU.
The JDU and BJP have sealed a 122-121 seats deal. The VIP will contest in 11 seats from the BJP's quota whereas Mr Manjhi's party will get seven seats from the JDU's share.