The BJP on Saturday asserted that it had “not poached” MLAs of the JD(U), headed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in Arunachal Pradesh and underscored that the disgruntled legislators had switched sides of their own accord.
Renu Devi, one of the Deputy CMs in Bihar and a former BJP national vice-president, called Mr Kumar the “guardian” of the ruling coalition and expressed confidence that the development in the north-eastern state will not cast its shadow here.
“We had not poached them (JD(U) MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh). What could our party have done if some legislators voluntarily expressed desire to join us”, said Renu Devi in reply to queries from journalists.
Notably, the split in Arunachal Pradesh has reduced the strength of the JD(U) from seven to just one in assembly of the BJP-ruled north-eastern state where it had been the principal opposition party.
The development has come close on the heels of reports of acrimony between the JD(U) and BJP having caused a delay in expansion of the Bihar cabinet.
The JD(U), which has been squarely blaming Chirag Paswan’s LJP for its own poor show in Bihar assembly polls, has reportedly been insistent on “equal” representation in the state cabinet which is said to have riled the BJP since it helped Mr Kumar retain the Chief Ministers post despite having a much higher tally than that of his party.
BJP won 74 seats in the October-November Bihar polls to catapult the NDA to power compensating the loss of JD(U) numbers from 71 to 43.
Meanwhile, a chastened JD(U) sought to make light of the en masse defection of its legislators in Arunachal Pradesh.
The partys national general secretary Afaque Ahmed said the party was focused on its national council and national executive meetings scheduled for Sunday, the agenda for which was decided at a meeting of party office-bearers chaired by Mr Kumar in the evening.
“Our state unit there (in Arunachal) saw it coming. Some of the defectors had already been suspended and issued show cause for indulging in anti-party activities”, Mr Ahmed said.
State BJP president and chief whip in the Lok Sabha Sanjay Jaiswal replied with a cryptic smile when asked whether the party, which is also in power at the Centre, had attempted to checkmate the JD(U)s attempts to assert itself.
“As the state unit president I can only say that my party, along with the JD(U) and smaller allies HAM and VIP is running a fine government in Bihar”, Mr Jaiswal said waving away at journalists.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)