Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today all but expelled close aide Prashant Kishor, who has been needling him on the citizenship law and openly targeting ally BJP in tweets. "Rahega to theek, nahi rahega to theek. (If he stays, it's ok. If he goes, it's ok)," Mr Kumar told reporters after a meeting with party leaders and lawmakers this afternoon.
"Already he works as a strategist for various parties, but I'm making one thing clear, if he wants to remain in the party he will have to adopt the basic structure of the party," warned the Janata Dal United (JDU) chief.
Prashant Kishor, master poll strategist and JDU's number two, also got a caustic reminder from his boss about the reason he is in the party. "Do you know how he joined the party? Amit Shah told me to induct him. He must have something on his mind? Maybe he wants to leave...," Mr Kumar remarked.
But days after his sharp words to another senior leader, Pavan Varma, the Chief Minister stopped short of declaring any formal action - once again.
"Someone wrote a letter. I replied to it. Someone is tweeting, let him tweet. Anyone can stay as long as they want, leave whenever they want. Ours is a different kind of party," Mr Kumar told reporters.
The comments revealed that the Chief Minister's patience is wearing thin with two prominent aides turned dissenters whose comments spell trouble for the JDU-BJP partnership just months before the Bihar election.
"Nitish Ji has spoken, you should wait for my answer. I will come to Bihar to answer him," said Prashant Kishor.
Since he was made JDU vice president in 2018, Prashant Kishor has been among Mr Kumar's close advisers but that has not stopped him from taking up jobs on the side - he is working with both Mamata Banerjee for the Bengal election and Arvind Kejriwal for the February 8 Delhi election. It has also not stopped him from publicly contradicting his party.
Mr Kishor has relentlessly attacked ally BJP on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act - which the JDU supported in both houses of parliament -- and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify illegal immigrants.
Another JDU leader who has been a vocal critic of the citizenship law - Pavan Varma - last week wrote an open letter to Nitish Kumar challenging him on his party's stand on CAA and revealing their private conversations about the BJP. Mr Varma was publicly snubbed for his efforts, with Mr Kumar saying: "He is free to go and join any party he likes, my best wishes."
Mr Kumar has ruled out the NRC in Bihar but he has never come out openly against the CAA, which says non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can become Indian citizens easily if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015.
The law has provoked nationwide protests. Critics say it discriminates against Muslims and, along with the NRC, can be used as tools to target them.