Top BJP leaders, who are in Bihar today, met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the party begins preparations for their joint fight in the assembly elections later this year. BJP chief JP Nadda, who is on a two-day visit to the state, met Mr Kumar at his residence where informal discussions on seat-sharing for the polls took place, sources said.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has been tasked with managing the party's campaign for the Bihar election, and BJP national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, were also among those present at the meeting with Nitish Kumar at his Patna residence.
The key meeting comes amid a cloud of uncertainty over Mr Kumar's alliance with the Lok Janshakti Party or LJP, led by Chirag Paswan, and if the party will fight the Bihar polls with the Janata dal (United)-BJP combine.
"I have no problem with the name of Nitish Kumar as the face of NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and I am okay with any Tom, Dick or Harry chosen by the BJP," Mr Paswan told NDTV, adding that the alliance partners should first agree to a common minimum programme where his party's campaign for "Bihar First and Bihari First" is also incorporated. Mr Paswan, 37, said he is not willing to work on Nitish Kumar's 'seven resolves' commitment which he had announced ahead of the last state polls in 2015.
Nitish Kumar's and Mr Paswan's parties have been sparring over the last few months on several issues including the state government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its response to the recent floods.
"Only a government which can work along Modi government can take Bihar forward, unlike a government having differences such as the West Bengal government. Farmers in Bengal are not getting PM Kisan scheme's benefit just because their Chief Minster has not sent the list. This incident caused loss to farmers only, state and centre remain unaffected," Mr Fadnavis had told reporters in Patna on Friday.
"I hope that Bihar will elect NDA government in coming elections. The future of Bihar's youth will be in better condition under the NDA government. Dates for Bihar assembly elections will be announced in coming days and the party has given me the opportunity to work for the party here," he said.
Meanwhile, the opposition had accused the ruling alliance of dragging actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death into politics for electoral gains as BJP workers put posters and banners of the actor in Bihar.
"We do not want to make Sushant Singh Rajput's death an election issue. I was told I would work in Bihar long before this case happened. This is linked to the common man's emotion. We will ensure he gets justice and we will not stop until justice is done," Mr Fadnavis said.
"That is why we say, na bhoolenge, na bhoolne denge (we won't forget, we will not let anyone forget)," he said, referring to the phrase on the posters put up by BJP's cultural unit in Bihar.
The election to the 243 assembly seats of Bihar is due in October-November. The tenure of the current assembly will end on November 29.
The JD(U)-BJP combine contested the national election in Bihar last year, and won. Their relation, however, deteriorated after the BJP offered just one Union Cabinet berth to the JD(U), which was unacceptable to Nitish Kumar.
The BJP last year had declared that it will contest the Bihar polls under Mr Kumar's leadership, in a move to mollify its upset ally.