Home Minister Amit Shah, on a visit to Bihar today, took on former ally Nitish Kumar over his alleged ambition for the country's top post.
That post is not vacant, Mr Shah declared, "since the people have decided to make Narendra Modi Prime Minister for the third time".
"One person wants to become the Prime Minister and Lalu ji's son wants to be the Chief Minister," Mr Shah said in Bihar's Nawada, where he went to address a BJP rally.
"I want to tell Lalu-ji - you know Nitish, he can't be the Prime Minister, the post is not available. People of the country have decided that Narendra Modi will become the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term. Once that happens, Nitish Kumar will go back on his promise of handing over the mantle to his deputy Tejashwi Yadav as his dreams of becoming the Prime Minister will be shattered," Mr Shah said in a jibe at Mr Kumar who has been seen as a Prime Ministerial hopeful since his second split from the BJP last year.
There has even been speculation that Mr Kumar plans to hand over the Chief Minister's post to Tejashwi Yadav once he shifts to Delhi.
Both Mr Kumar and Mr Yadav have dismissed the possibility.
"Neither he (Nitish Kumar) wants to become the PM nor do I want to become Chief Minister. We are happy where we are," Mr Yadav had categorically said in the state assembly last month.
Mr Kumar had ended the 30-plus years partnership with the BJP for a second time in 2022 after reports that Mr Shah was foraging within the JD(U) for defectors. The move threw the BJP out of power - Mr Kumar reset his government within 24 hours by reviving the grand alliance with Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and six other parties, leaving the BJP out of any prospective allies.
"The BJP can never join hands with Nitish Kumar, who spreads venom of casteism, and 'Jungle Raj' pioneer Lalu Prasad," Mr Shah said today, reiterating that the BJP's doors are always closed for the Bihar Chief Minister.