Countdown begins for Sunday’s announcement

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Nitish_KumarPatna, June 15;Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s statement has sealed the fate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaving no room for manoeuvring the JD(U) and the BJP from the brink of an inevitable separation, the JD (U) said on Saturday. Consequently, the JD (U) is expected to make an announcement on Sunday in the presence of party chief Sharad Yadav.

Mr. Yadav is slated to arrive in Patna on Saturday evening after which the JD(U) will hold a round of meetings before making an official statement.

“I think we will announce a decision tomorrow [Sunday]. It has come from the horse’s mouth. Now where is the scope for any reconciliation or patch-up? Is the BJP going to declare that Narendra Modi will not be its prime ministerial candidate?” senior JD (U) leader Shivanand Tiwari told The Hindu.

In a statement to a daily, Mr. Kumar said the BJP must “publicly declare” that Mr. Modi will not be the PM candidate. A day earlier too, the Chief Minister made no effort to queer the pitch when he described the situation as “tough” and even took a dig at the BJP.

BJP’s refusal

The last nail in the coffin was the refusal of BJP ministers to meet Nitish Kumar after being invited for talks at his residence this morning. Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister and Nand Kishore Yadav, minister and NDA convenor, declined the invitation for a meeting saying they were not authorised to speak on the issues of the agenda.

“The meeting was called to discuss who will be the PM candidate and when he be declared. However, there was no point in attending this meeting. We communicated to Mr. Kumar that the matter was not within the purview of the State BJP. Only our national leadership was authorised to discuss and decide such matters,” Mr. Yadav told The Hindu.

He said the BJP was ready to sit in Opposition in the event of a split in the alliance. “We will sit in Opposition. We don’t want to form the government. The two parties have no difference on the common minimum programme, based on which they came together. It is now up to the JD (U) to decide,” Mr. Yadav said.

Many top JD (U) leaders Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, P.K. Shahi and party president Bashishtha Narayan Singh had come to the CM house expecting to hold last-minute deliberations. However, they had to return.

“The situation is definitely serious. There is no solution in sight. It seems turning back is difficult now,” JD (U) State president Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu.

Mr. Kumar had called the meeting as a goodwill gesture to work out the modalities of an amicable separation and avoid any bitterness. “Since the two parties have worked together for so many years the meeting was expected to find a way to proceed in good spirit,” Mr. Singh said.

“It was called to sort out differences between the partners. By Sunday, things should be clearer. Mr. Yadav will arrive and the party will discuss,” Mr. Chaudhary said.

With the parties not even on talking terms, the BJP still maintained that they were in favour of an alliance. Though it had been playing victim all along, the JD (U) too accused its partner of wanting to break away.

“What’s left now? When the BJP is not listening to its own leader LK Advani, will it listen to us? The BJP too wants to part ways from us. If the Deputy CM does not come to meet the CM even when he is still in office, it is clear they too do not want a resolution,” a JD (U) minister told The Hindu.

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