Senior Bihar minister Shyam Rajak said today that it is absolutely essential that Nitish Kumar be projected as the chief ministerial candidate of any alliance that the JDU is a part of. "A strong alliance can only happen if Nitish Kumar leads it," said the minister, who is seen as close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Mr Rajak said his party still hopes to forge an alliance with Lalu Yadav's RJD, but members of that party must "avoid statements on Nitish Kumar."
"Anyone making such statements is on the payroll of the BJP," the minister deduced.
In what has been seen as a potential alliance coming apart even before it is stitched together, RJD's national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has said twice this week that his party does not favour projecting Nitish Kumar for chief minister in the Bihar elections to be held later this year.
While Lalu Yadav has made said much on this, Mr Singh is a trusted aide of the RJD chief and his statements are not merely seen as an independent opinion. He said as much yesterday when he told NDTV, "The big leaders, they give orders to fire. We are mere soldiers, we just carry out their orders."
The "big leaders" have so far not participated in the posturing. Both Nitish and Lalu have said they still hope to put together an alliance to stop the BJP from adding Bihar to its kitty of states.
"Things are moving at its own speed... the last word on our merger has not been said," said Mr Kumar about efforts for a mega-merger at the national level of parties with socialist roots, of which both the JDU and RJD are a part.
"Let us sit together today itself and finalise it," said Lalu Yadav on Monday.
The Congress has urged both parties to get their act together and firm up the alliance of which it will also be a part. It has indicated that it backs Nitish Kumar as presumptive chief minister.
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.