New Delhi/Lucknow: The BJP and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) say they are not ending their alliance in Bihar but their relationship is getting worse.
The BJP on Sunday said JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was being “petty” and “childish” by returning flood relief money to Gujarat and dared him to end the alliance.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said Nitish Kumar must “clearly announce” if he wanted to continue with the alliance. "There is no use of doing this drama," Sinha said in Ranchi.
"What Nitishji has done is a childish act," he said about the Chief Minister’s decision to return funds to Gujarat.
Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra called Nitish Kumar's decision “petty” and “narrow-minded”.
"Nitish Kumar must reconsider his decision that has taken the entire country by surprise. He (Kumar) must realise that the relief fund provided by the Gujarat government was not any kind of debt that can be returned. One can return the debt, but not the assistance," Mishra told reporters in Lucknow.
"Nitish Kumar must know that the money he returned was not of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, or any individual. It belonged to the public of Gujarat, who wanted to help the flood victims (in Bihar)," he said.
Nitish Kumar on Saturday returned the Rs 5 crore money given by Gujarat for flood relief two years ago. He was angry at advertisements featuring him and Narendra Modi and the Gujarat Chief Minister's reference to the aid provided by his government during the 2008 Kosi floods.
Mishra said that by returning the aid money, Nitish Kumar had not only hurt the sentiments of the people of Gujarat but also all Indians.
It shows "narrow-mindedness and petty politics. It is unfortunate. Nitish Kumar should accept his mistake", he said.
"It appears the decision is related to vote-bank politics in Bihar, which has a sizeable number of Muslims," Mishra said.
"If Nitish Kumar wanted to appease the minority community, he should have come forward and spoken over the Bhopal gas tragedy as 70 percent of the victims there were from the minority community. Why is he (Kumar) silent over the 1984 tragedy? Why is he not ready to take up the issue on behalf of the minority community?" he asked.
Mishra said Nitish Kumar's decision would definitely affect their parties’ coalition government in Bihar. But, he was quick to add: "Right now we are in no mood to end the coalition."
"His (Kumar) decision has definitely not sent a good message to the public of Bihar and Nitish Kumar must make every effort to strengthen the coalition."
Bihar Deputy CM cancels tour with Nitish
In a sign of widening rift, senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi cancelled a tour with Nitish Kumar on Sunday.
"I don't want to accompany Kumar for a meeting following the development arising out of an arbitrary attitude of the Chief Minister to return the flood relief money to government of Gujarat," said Sushil Kumar Modi.
"We have taken the development seriously and we don't want to carry forward politics over the funds meant for the welfare of the flood-hit victims in Kosi belt in 2008," he said.
Sharad Yadav keeps fingers crossed
However, Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav said his party's would remain with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
"Our alliance with NDA is old and our intention is that it should continue. The incidents of June 12 were unfortunate but are now behind us. What has passed has passed. After June 12 we fought Rajya Sabha polls together," Yadav told PTI.
He insisted that the events of June 12 -- when Nitish Kumar expressed his ire at the advertisement -- would not harm the alliance.
"The NDA is still functioning and in future also the NDA will function. I do not know everything about June 12 but that is unfortunate. I do not want to go into details of June 12. That has passed and we should look ahead," Yadav said.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)