New Delhi: When Janata Dal-United or JDU parliamentarian Sharad Yadav spoke about raising the issue of farmers protest to corner the Narendra Modi government at a meeting of the opposition parties on Tuesday, many opposition lawmakers had one question - Was Mr Yadav articulating his own views or his party's? The opposition lawmakers were meeting to choose their vice presidential candidate, who was later revealed to be Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
People familiar with the matter told NDTV a senior lawmaker, who sat next to Rahul Gandhi at the meeting on Tuesday, wanted the Congress Vice President to ask Sharad Yadav whether the JDU was indeed growing closer to the NDA. Mr Gandhi did not speak with Sharad Yadav on the matter, they said.
Then, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury threw the question straight at Sharad Yadav, who not too long ago headed the JDU. Sharad Yadav told his colleagues in the opposition that agriculture is an issue that his party is concerned about and his views reflect that of the JDU's.
"We certainly respect Sharad-ji's opinion, but even during the note ban his views were different from the Bihar chief minister's," said an opposition party leader who asked not to be named.
In recent times, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his party Janata Dal United seem closer to the National Democratic Alliance than joining ranks with the opposition parties.
From demonetisation in November 2016 to last month's pick of the NDA's presidential candidate, Nitish Kumar's JDU has been seen standing with the Modi government more often than with the opposition.
Last month, when Congress President Sonia Gandhi hosted a lunch where all opposition leaders were invited to discuss the presidential election, Nitish Kumar did not turn up. But the next day, he flew to Delhi to attend a lunch hosted by PM Modi for visiting Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.
This growing closeness with the NDA on the one hand, and corruption charges against RJD chief Lalu Yadav's family, on the other hand, has prompted political analysts to speculate that Nitish Kumar could be heading back to the NDA to maintain his "clean image".
This theory got a boost on Monday when Bihar BJP chief and parliamentarian Nityanand Rai told reporters that "his party could offer outside support to Kumar in Bihar's interest if he acts again the corrupt," - which is why the opposition leaders wanted to know if Sharad Yadav's views represented the JDU's thinking.