New Delhi: A much-harried looking Bihar BJP chief Mangal Pandey said on Saturday the party had resigned itself to its fate now that the future of its alliance with the JD(U) hangs in the balance. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Pandey said, "We worked hard for this alliance. We will never be the ones to break it. It is up to the JD(U) to decide whether the alliance is on or off."
He also sounded a warning for its 18-year-old ally, saying alliances didn't work "on dictation or force", referring to its opposition to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was recently made the BJP's poll campaign chief and is just one step short of being made its prime ministerial candidate.
The Bihar BJP leaders had met at Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi's residence. The meeting came on a day when the Congress made overtures to the JD(U), with party spokesman Bhakta Charan Das calling it a "secular, like-minded party".
"JD(U) is a like-minded party, which has faith in secularism. It is in alliance with a party with which its ideology does not match," Das said, in the first clear signal by the Congress that it was open to working with the JD(U).
Das's comments came shortly after party vice president Rahul Gandhi said it was up to the Congress decision-making body to decide on JD(U).
JD(U), the second largest constituent of the NDA with 20 Lok Sabha seats, is set to walk out of a 18-year-old association with the BJP following the elevation of Narendra Modi as chief of BJP's election campaign committee. The Bihar Chief Minister has a strong antipathy for Modi.
The Congress' call for the coming together of "like minded secular forces" came at a time when regional leaders like Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar are talking about the formation of a Federal Front of non-Congress, non-BJP parties.
Congress is sharing power at the Centre since May 2004 after the UPA under Sonia Gandhi ousted Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA from power. It has also formed a committee headed by senior leader AK Antony to go into the issue of alliances as part of finding new friends and allies ahead of the Lok Sabha polls less than a year away.
With additional information from PTI