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Jun 12, 2013 at 03:26pm IST

Congress says secular parties are welcome in UPA

New Delhi: At a time, the Janata Dal United is exploring other options in Bihar away from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress seems to be hinting that it is willing to welcome Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for an alliance. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday said, "All secular parties are welcome within the UPA." He also said that there will be no early elections.

Congress leader Rajiv Shukla also welcomed reports of the JD(U)-BJP split. "They have made it clear that they will not make any compromises on secularism. We want more people to follow the path of secularism, so that peace prevails in society and India flourishes. A country where people are fighting among themselves can never progress," Shukla said.

ALSO SEE Upset with Modi's elevation, Nitish begins work for a JD(U)-BJP split

These statements from Congress leaders come at a time when Nitish Kumar is laying the groundwork for a split with the BJP. Top JD(U) sources have told CNN-IBN that Nitish has called all party leaders involved in decision making to Patna. Sources say the JD(U) is convinced that Modi who has been named BJP's campaign chief will end up becoming its Prime Ministerial candidate as well. Sources add that Nitish has taken a strong objection to BJP chief Rajnath Singh's description of Modi's elevation as a call of justice.

The decision and announcement on the JD(U) pulling out of the NDA could be made after the party executive meet likely on Saturday when Nitish Kumar returns from his Seva Yatra. Sources say Nitish Kumar is planning to create a federal front of three Chief Ministers, that of Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar.

ALSO SEE Nitish planning a federal front of CMs of Bihar, WB, Odisha: sources

Sources say it is the demand for a special category status that unites them. In fact, sources add that Nitish Kumar has already extended support to the BJD rally in Delhi for a special status to Odisha. Nitish has also sent his emissary JD(U) MP KC Tyagi to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.

JD(U) sources say in case the three Chief Ministers come together, they can negotiate with either of the two main parties - the BJP or the Congress in government formation. Top JD(U) sources say that it's just a matter of days before the JD(U) pulls out of the NDA.

ALSO SEE JD(U) exploring options beyond BJP in Bihar, may end alliance soon

JD(U) sources say the process of garnering support on the floor of the Bihar Assembly in case of walking out of the alliance has started. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar convened a meeting with senior JD(U) leaders in Patna on Tuesday evening. JD(U) leaders have reportedly been asked to contact independent MLAs and garner their support in JD(U)'s favour. Three MLAs have already vouched to back the JD(U).

Sources have told CNN-IBN that the announcement regarding the snapping of ties may come any day after June 15 once Nitish Kumar returns from his Seva Yatra. Sources say the official announcement will be made in Delhi by JD(U) President Sharad Yadav.

JD(U) sources said the consultation will continue and claimed that a 'big announcement' is expected 'any time'. "The decision will be announced in a few days. Be patient, wait for sometime. The decision will be made," said Nitish Kumar.

Nitish held talks with Sharad Yadav and other senior state JD(U) leaders till late Tuesday night weighing the pros and cons of remaining in the alliance. He also held talks with senior ministers in his cabinet like Bijendra Yadav, Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Shayam Rajak and Rajya Sabha member and a close confidante RCP Singh.

"The ministers have met Nitish Kumar. The future of the alliance was discussed and it is a call that will be taken by the party soon. The alliance with the BJP stands for now," said JD(U) leader Vijay Chaudhary.

JD(U) leader and Bihar Food Minister Shyam Rajak said, "The recent events have raised serious questions about the alliance within the JD(U). The events in Goa have strained the alliance and now we have to ask ourselves some tough questions."

These consultations within the JD(U) come just days after the anointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as BJP's campaign committee chief for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. "This coalition is almost over now because a man tainted in communal riots is not acceptable to us," said JD(U) leader Narender Singh.

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