- JDU asserts Nitish Kumar is the face of NDA in Bihar
- Speculated as demand for greater share of seats in parliamentary polls
- BJP and JDU fought separately in the 2014 general election
"This is a special occasion in which I want to see happiness on all faces. Please do not ask about any other face right now," Mr Kumar, the chief of the Janata Dal United, quipped to reporters at his Iftar.
"All your queries will be answered at an appropriate time. Right now, let us pray that the holy month of Ramzan brings peace and prosperity to Bihar," he remarked when reporters pressed for a response.
His deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior Bihar BJP leader who was also at the Iftar, had said earlier that the NDA would seek votes in the name of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's works.
"Narendra Modi is the country's prime minister while Nitish Kumar is the leader in Bihar. So the votes we will get in Bihar will be in Narendra Modi's name and in the name of Kumar's works. I don't see any contradiction here. Kumar is the face in Bihar while Narendra Modi is the prime ministerial face in the country," Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters, downplaying the JDU comments.
The JDU's assertion that the chief minister is the face of the NDA in Bihar is perceived as a message that the BJP can no longer dictate seat-sharing in the parliamentary polls, especially after its recent by-poll defeats.
Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the BJP has 22 in addition to nine others held by allies including Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's party. The BJP and JDU fought separately in the 2014 general election.
Nitish Kumar's party was the senior partner in Bihar till 2013 when it walked out of the BJP-led NDA. In the 2009 polls, it had contested 25 seats while the BJP fought on 15.
Sushil Kumar Modi said seat-sharing "will be decided at an opportune time". He insisted it would happen without any conflict. "When hearts have met, then seats are not a big issue," he said.
Nitish Kumar capped all talk about the JDU stance with a prayer: "May the followers of all religions live together in peace and may mutual respect flourish. Let us also pray that our state, which suffers the wrath of nature almost every year, does not face drought or floods."
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