BJP national president Amit Shah today had a brief meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over breakfast, during which the two leaders are understood to have discussed the prevailing political situation in view of the Lok Sabha polls due next year.
They are expected to arrive at a broad understanding on seat-sharing for the 2019 general election.
Patna: BJP President Amit Shah meets Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Deputy CM Sushil Modi also present pic.twitter.com/byxP745c3A— ANI (@ANI) July 12, 2018
The two leaders met over breakfast at the State Guest House and will meet again for dinner at the chief minister's official residence today.
Shah arrived here from Ranchi this morning and was given a warm welcome at the airport by BJP workers and senior leaders, including party state president Nityanand Rai.
This is the BJP chief's first visit to the state since the dramatic political realignment of last year when Kumar, the JD(U) national president, walked out of the Grand Alliance which included the RJD and the Congress, and returned to the NDA.
Shah's visit to Bihar after Kumar's JD(U) rejoined the NDA last year comes in the backdrop of repeated assertions by spokesmen of the JD(U) that it was the "elder brother" in the coalition and should get the lion's share of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Refusing to take queries from journalists, Shah drove straight to the state guest house where he met Kumar, in presence of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP's national general secretary in-charge for Bihar Bhupendra Yadav and Rai, over a simple breakfast of "poha", Bihari dishes made of "sattu", fruits, lassi and buttermilk.
Shah is scheduled to hold meetings with party functionaries during his day-long visit and meet Kumar again over dinner before retiring for the day.
Sources in the BJP and the JD(U) said although a detailed discussion on seat-sharing might not take place, Kumar and Shah were expected to arrive at a broad understanding on the issue that had been plaguing the alliance for the last few months.
The issue of seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls within the NDA in Bihar has become a thorny one in the wake of recent insistence by a number of JD(U) leaders that the party should be allotted a number of constituencies -- commensurate with its standing in the state Assembly -- where it has the highest tally among the partners of the BJP-led coalition.
The NDA in Bihar also comprises the LJP and the RLSP, headed by Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha respectively.
However, sources in the LJP and RLSP said both Paswan and Kushwaha were abroad and it was not clear whether anyone from the two parties would be attending any of the functions where Shah will be present.
The NDA, which had won 31 of the 40 seats in Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, is witnessing claims and counter-claims made by leaders of the constituents after the JD(U) returned to its fold.
The old partners -- the BJP, the LJP and the RLSP -- had won 22, six and three seats respectively, while the JD(U), which had contested the polls separately with the Left parties, had managed to win only two seats.
The speculation was fuelled after the JD(U) chief telephoned RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, following the latter undergoing a surgery in a Mumbai hospital last month.
Kumar though had dismissed reports of any "rift" between the JD(U) and the BJP over seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha polls and said he was in no hurry to resolve the issue.
In 2010, Kumar had cancelled a dinner, which was supposed to be hosted for the BJP leaders, after a photograph of him holding hands with then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi appeared in a number of local newspapers.
Former deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, corruption cases against whom had prompted Kumar to walk out of the Grand Alliance and return to the NDA, came up with a sarcastic tweet, recalling the 2010 episode.
"Tomorrow, Nitish Kumar will offer a point-wise explanation to Amit Shah as to why he had cancelled the dinner hosted for Narendra Modi in June, 2010 and under what circumstances he was hosting another dinner now. Perhaps he will say I was strong then but now I am helpless," Yadav tweeted in Hindi.
A similar comment was made by MLC Prem Chandra Mishra, a senior leader of the state Congress, which, together with the JD(U) and the RJD, had formed the Grand Alliance.
Kumar had snapped 17-year-old ties with the BJP in 2013, following differences with the saffron party over projection of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.