After two days of silence over Chirag Paswan's great divide from Nitish Kumar, the BJP on Tuesday appeared to be out to over-compensate for the hurt feelings of the five-time Chief Minister. The BJP's senior-most leader Sushil Modi issued a clarification that aimed to put the young Lok Janshakti Party leader in his place. At the meeting with the media, he and two other key leaders of the party insisted that Nitish Kumar will remain the NDA's Chief Minister.
Between themselves, Sanjay Jaiswal, Sushil Modi and Bhupendra Yadav insisted 12 times on Nitish Kumar retaining his post - flatly contradicting Chirag Paswan's claim that after a victory, the Lok Janshakti Party and the BJP would form a government together, cutting out Mr Kumar altogether.
This evening, the lead was taken by state party chief Sanjay Jaiswal, who said "The NDA leader in Bihar is Nitish Kumar and "Only those who accept Nitish Kumar's leadership in Bihar will stay in the NDA".
"The BJP will make every effort to make him the Chief Minister. Nitish Kumar will become Chief Minister with three-fourth majority," he added.
Sushil Modi took it a few steps further.
Only Nitish Kumar, he declared, will be the Chief Minister, "whatever may be the outcome in terms of numbers" - indicating that the arrangement will hold even if the JD(U) tally drops below the BJP's numbers.
Mr Modi, who is also Mr Kumar's deputy in the state government, said Paswan Junior could not have taken such a step if his father was around. Ram Vilas Paswan, 74, recently had a heart surgery and is recuperating in hospital.
The statement of Bhupendra Yadav was on the same lines, indicating the BJP's eagerness to placate the Chief Minister.
The statements of the BJP leaders come amid speculation in the JD(U) that Chirag Paswan's rebellion was tacitly backed by the top leadership of the party as a ruse to keep Mr Kumar in check. Much of the speculation was triggered by the BJP's prolonged silence on the young leader's public attacks on Nitish Kumar on a variety of issues and his party's eventual decision to go solo, but retain tis with the BJP.
Mr Kumar, who has also not commented on the issue so far, on Tuesday said it was impossible to please everyone, "however hard you try". While he did not name the LJP leader, his dig at Paswan Senior made the context clear.
"They (the Lok Janshakti Party) had just two MLAs and ask anyone how he (Ram Vilas Paswan) went to the Rajya Sabha with the help of the BJP and the Janata Dal United," he said.
Mr Paswan is yet to respond to the BJP's assertions. The leader, whose party has pitched him strongly as a contender for the state's top job, said in an open letter on Monday that the decision to dissociate with Nitish Kumar was "taken not to rule Bihar but to be proud".
Earlier on Tuesday, in an interview with NDTV, he described his party's alliance with Nitish Kumar as a "compulsion".
"He overnight dumped RJD and Congress and came over to the NDA and became Chief Minister again. We had no choice. But we realized that Nitish Kumar kept working on his own agenda and never listened to anyone," said Chirag Paswan, whose party has cited ideological reasons for the decision.