New Delhi: Settling the leadership issue and laying to rest all speculations over rift within, Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah has unanimously announced Nitish Kumar as the leader of the BJP-JD(U) coalition for the state assembly polls in Bihar slated next year.
The BJP president, in an exclusive interview to News18 Network Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi, said the BJP-JD(U) alliance was "atal" (unbreakable) and the combine will fight the upcoming elections together. "The Janata Dal (United) and the BJP will go to polls together and we will fight polls under the leadership of Nitish ji. This is absolutely clear,” said Shah.
Shah added that at the national level, the two parties are working under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in the state they will do so under the leadership of the current chief minister.
When asked about the reported tiffs between the two parties, Shah said, “In a coalition, there are always tiffs and they should be considered a parameter of a healthy coalition. Bas mat-bhed man-bhed mein nahi badalna chahiye [only thing is that these differences in opinion shouldn't turn into a change of hearts]”.
Reports of tension between the two coalition partners started when the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), which was offered a single ministerial berth in the Modi Cabinet 2.0, refused to join the government. In a move which was largely seen as retaliation, Nitish Kumar later expanded the state Cabinet, bringing in more JD(U) leaders. Both parties did not attend Iftaar parties hosted in the state, which fuelled further rumours of a serious rift between them.
Leaders from both sides have lately often aired passive aggressive views over who would lead the election battle in the state. Bihar's deputy CM Sushil Modi had earlier said that Kumar was the leader of the alliance, but there had been no confirmation from the top brass.
It will also soothe the JD(U), which had in the last few days faced unrelenting attacks from union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh.
Now Amit Shah's assertion is likely to put to rest any speculation over who will lead the alliance campaign. Shah was speaking to Joshi in a no-holds-barred interview to be aired across Network18 TV Channels on Thursday, October 17. News18.com will run special coverage of the interview throughout the day.