There seem to be serious differences in the Bihar BJP over the path to next year's assembly elections. Despite a full-throated endorsement by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will lead the BJP-Janata Dal United alliance to the polls, voices of dissent have only firmed up in the last few weeks.
Usually, a statement from Mr Modi - one the BJP's most senior leaders in the state - would have ended the discussion but this time many in the party - from veterans like Dr CP Thakur to first time legislators - have made their differences public.
On Wednesday, after his return from a visit to Mongolia and before driving up to the Chief Minister's for a meeting, Mr Modi ensured that his tweet backing Nitish Kumar reached every media outlet.
@NitishKumar is the Captain of NDA in Bihar & will remain its Captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also.When Captain is hitting 4 & 6 & defeating rivals by inning where is the Q of any change.— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) September 11, 2019
After the meeting, he even summoned Sanjay Paswan, a member of the legislative council from the BJP, who triggered the controversy by saying Nitish Kumar should now bow out of Bihar politics and told him to refrain from making such statements.
However, it was not long after that Mithilesh Tiwari, a first-time legislator, openly challenged Mr Modi, saying his statements were his personal view and not that of the party.
Senior Rajya Sabha MP Dr C P Thakur also appeared to demonstrate his differences with the Deputy Chief Minister, saying that the state elections due late next year will be fought in the name of Prime Minster Narendra Modi only.
Meanwhile, seemingly unaffected by the schooling, Sanjay Paswan on his visit to Delhi rushed to Union Minister Giriraj Singh and ensured the two were clicked together and the photo was splashed on social media.
Giriraj Singh, the lawmaker from Bihar's Begusarai known for his resilience in the face of controversies triggered by his coarse statements, has cultivated an image of someone who never misses a chance to embarrass either Nitish Kumar or Sushil Modi.
His support has undoubtedly emboldened many within the BJP to thrown an open challenge to leaders like Sushil Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav who believe that ditching Nitish Kumar will be politically suicidal.
Although BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah has kept away from taking a side, during parliamentary elections he had briefly spoken his mind when he said parting ways with Nitish Kumar would mean him teaming up with Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, turning the caste arithmetic against the BJP.
Nitish Kumar is already being actively wooed by the RJD. Two of its senior-most leaders Shivanand Tiwari and Raghubansh Prasad Singh, who used to be very critical of Nitish Kumar, have now publicly urged him to return to the opposition alliance.
Sources close to Nitish Kumar suggest he is aware that even though they are allies right now, nothing can be taken for granted with the BJP, and is said to be watching the events unfold very closely.
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