Raising the stakes for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,long-time BJP ally JD-U on Monday said it would fight the upcoming Assembly polls in the state on its own and that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar might campaign for party candidates.
In the strongest indication so far of its aversion to Modi,JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav on Monday said his party had no reservations in tying up with the BJP anywhere barring Gujarat.
The BJP is the largest party in the NDA. We will go for an alliance with BJP wherever it wants us,but barring Gujarat,Yadav said in reply to a question whether JD(U) contesting elections separately in a state ruled by BJP will not give impression of a rift in the NDA.
There is speculation that JD(U)s Gujarat unit plans to contest 100 of the 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat.
To a query whether the Bihar CM would go to campaign for JD(U) candidates in Gujarat this time,Yadav said Kumar and he himself as well as a large number ministers of the Bihar government had gone to campaign for party candidates in last Gujarat Assembly elections as well. Both of us (Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar) have campaigned there earlier also. We will do it this time as well, he said.
JD(U),which has been the ruling party in Bihar in alliance with BJP for around eight years,has been contesting elections in alliance with the saffron party in Jharkhand and Rajasthan as well. The alliance between the two parties in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu has been off and on many occasions,Yadav said.
Speaking in Patna later in the day,Nitish Kumar reiterated his party would contest the Assembly polls in Gujarat. He,however,was non-committal about campaigning in Gujarat,citing his hectic schedule till December. Abhi schedule kahan hai (where is the schedule)? he said.
JD(U) national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwari,when contacted,said he had not discussed Gujarat with Nitish Kumar so far but downplayed the Nitish versus Modi debate. There could be nothing unusual in JD(U) contesting alone yet again in Gujarat. We (BJP and JD-U) have a Bihar-specific alliance. We fought last UP Assembly polls separately, he told The Indian Express.
In Ahmedabad,the state BJP put up a brave face. They have been doing so (fighting state polls separately) since 2002 and they can contest polls here, said state BJP spokesman Indravijaysinh Jadeja,adding the JD(U)s decision will have no bearing on the NDA. Asked how BJP would counter Nitish when he comes to Gujarat to campaign,Jadeja said it was JD(U)s internal matter.
Meanwhile,JD(U) national general secretary and spokesman K C Tyagi,who has been given the charge of partys election campaign in Gujarat,said his party hoped to improve its tally this time.
JD(U) had contested the 2002 and 2007 Assembly polls in Gujarat on its own. In 2002,it fought 29 seats and won two. In 2007,it fought 35 seats and won just one. Its lone MLA Chhotubhai Vasava represents Jhagadia seat.
JD(U) top leadership is likely to discuss its strategy for Gujarat polls later this week,and Tyagi may visit Gujarat in first week of October.
With ENS Patna,Ahmedabad