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Absence of Dal leaders sparks split rumours

Patna, Dec. 26: The JD(U) is no Jayalalithaa, at least in the possible realignment with Narendra Modi.

While the Tamil Nadu chief minister was present at her Gujarat counterpart’s swearing-in ceremony in Ahmedabad today, not a single leader from the JD(U) — the BJP’s oldest ally in the NDA — attended the function.

The party appears unapologetic, too. “Attending the oath-taking ceremony is not an issue at all. Our party has an alliance with the BJP in Bihar only. Outside the state, we have been fighting elections against each other — even in Gujarat,” said JD(U) MLC Dewesh Thakur. Thakur added that he was not aware if any party leader was invited to the Ahmedabad function attended by BJP heavyweights from across the country.

Incidentally, only two state BJP leaders — not even deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi — were seen in Ahmedabad today. Besides the party’s state president, C.P. Thakur, the only visible face in the galaxy of BJP leaders was that of MLA Rameshwar Chaurasia, who has been virtually camping in Gujarat for the past few weeks. However, the party’s poster boy in the state, deputy chief minister Modi, who had campaigned during the Gujarat Assembly elections, was also absent. “I had to skip the swearing-in ceremony of Modi because of the ABVP national meet,” he said. He said Modi invited him over the phone to be present there but he pleaded helplessness.

A senior BJP leader said a wrong message had gone about the party’s alliance with the JD(U). “Every NDA party had a representative in Ahmedabad today and the ceremony was attended by all chief ministers of the NDA except Nitish Kumar,” the BJP MLA in the state said, stressing that it might foment fresh “rumours” of a split between the BJP and the JD(U).

Nitish did not utter a word today also while flying off to New Delhi to attend National Development Council (NDC) meet. Surprisingly, Nitish’s office did not send any customary congratulatory message to Modi although they might come face to face at the NDC meet.