BJP president Amit Shah will meet Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar over breakfast and dinner on Thursday amid reports of differences between the allies over a host of issues, including allocation of seats for the Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held next year.
Shah landed in Patna at around 10am and headed straight to the state guest house for the breakfast meeting with Janata Dal(United) chief and key ally Kumar.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and the BJP’s state president Nityanand Rai were also present during the breakfast, where poha, jalebi and sattu ka paratha were served among other things.
The two leaders will meet over dinner hosted by Kumar at his house around 8pm and are expected to work out the differences and kick-start the process of formalising the specifics of the electoral understanding. Modi, Rai and a couple of other leaders are also expected to attend the dinner.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has assured the JD(U) that it respects its status in Bihar, and sees the chief minister as indispensable to the future of the state.
The JD(U), in turn, has conveyed to the BJP it is firmly committed to the alliance, is comfortable in it and wishes to resolve the 2019 seat-sharing issue, on “equal and respectable” terms.
“The meeting between national presidents of two parties will further enhance the harmonious relationship between the two alliance partners. After all, both JD(U) and BJP have a strong bond. When the duo will meet, they will definitely talk on how to win all 40 seats,” BJP’s national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The meeting and the dinner hosted by chief minister Kumar also assumes significance as it comes a fortnight before the first anniversary of the National Democratic Alliance 2 government in Bihar. Kumar’s party formed the government with the BJP after walking out of the grand alliance on July 27, 2017.
Earlier in August 2017, Shah had invited Kumar for a meeting over luncheon when he became part of NDA 2 in Bihar.
Thursday’s dinner hosted by Kumar in honour of Shah comes eight years after he had abruptly cancelled a similar party he had planned to host for the BJP leaders who were in Patna to attend the saffron outfit’s national executive in 2010 leading to bitterness between the two.
Three years later, Kumar walked out of NDA after the BJP made Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
Sources in the BJP said that the entry of the JD(U) in the alliance has definitely made the seat sharing a difficult proposition, but leaders sounded optimistic asserting “top leaders will sort out the issue amicably though it involves several meetings among them.”
BJP leaders said that Shah and Kumar’s meeting will help send a strong message to the opposition who are trying to create a rift in the alliance.
“It will be a message of unity,” said a BJP leader.
This is Shah’s first visit to Bihar after NDA 2 government took charge in the state in July 2017.
All the busy thoroughfares of Patna have been flooded with hoardings highlighting the achievements of the Narendra Modi government in the last four years.
Though Shah is unlikely to visit the party office, Mithila painters have depicted the Modi government’s achievement through their paintings on its walls.
Between lunch and dinner with Kumar, the BJP chief will also interact with 10,000 ground level workers, who head the Shakti Kendras or collection of booths in Bihar. The agenda would be to gauge the preparedness for next year’s election and offer guidance.
The state unit of the BJP has set up 10,000 booth in-charges, who have been given responsibility at the panchayat level and in areas under urban local bodies.
Several ground level workers have already arrived in the state capital and have been asked to stay with the representatives of their respective constituencies.