The Rashtriya Janata Dal on Saturday hinted at the possibility of a fresh alignment in Bihar if Chief Minister Nitish Kumar chose to snap ties with the BJP following the "humiliation" in Arunachal Pradesh.
RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary, however, made it clear that the ball lies in the court of the JD(U) boss who needed to realise that the development in the north-eastern state, where his party MLAs defected en masse to the BJP, was aimed at "settling old scores".
Tiwary recalled the incident of about a decade ago when Kumar had cancelled a dinner organised for visiting BJP leaders who were in Patna to take part in the partys national executive.
"Nitish Kumar had then made it amply clear that while he was okay with the BJP, he was very much averse to Narendra Modi, his then Gujarat counterpart. Now, Modi is not a man who is going to forgive and forget the slight", Tiwary said.
The veteran RJD leader, who has also been with the JD(U) for some time, insisted that the development in Arunachal Pradesh was "part of the chain of events that began with Chirag Paswans rebellion".
Paswan, the LJP president, had pulled out of the NDA ahead of the Bihar assembly polls vowing to dislodge Kumar from power. The LJP came a cropper in the elections though it succeeded in cutting into JD(U)s votes, with BJP rebels fighting on its tickets in many seats.
"The BJPs strategy was, firstly, to cut Nitish Kumar to size which it did successfully in the assembly polls. Now it has begun to humiliate him. What else could explain poaching of six JD(U) MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh where the BJP was already enjoying a very comfortable majority", Tiwary asked.
Tiwary, who had on the previous day sought to welcome any bold step by Kumar, said when asked to elaborate, "if he leaves the NDA, it cannot be that we will join hands with the BJP to run Nitish Kumar down. We have been consistent in opposing the BJP and he joined us for some time but switched sides because of reasons best known to him".
Kumar had joined hands with his arch-rival Lalu Prasad, the RJD supremo, ahead of the assembly polls in 2015. The Grand Alliance that came into being with the two parties, and the Congress, coming together, won the elections handsomely and Kumar returned as Chief Minister with Tejashwi Yadav as his deputy.
However, Tiwary also hinted that power equations could undergo a change this time, with the RJD still going strong but the JD(U) a pale shadow of its past self.
"Nitish has to take a tough decision as to what matters more to him his own dignity or the trappings of power", said Tiwary who has known Kumar closely for five decades.
RJD MLA and chief state spokesman Bhai Virendra, a Tejashwi Yadav loyalist, was even blunter.
"We have a standing offer to Nitish Kumar - give up your chair and help Tejashwi Yadav in forming a new government in the state. That would help him retain a bit of respectability. Else, his party would suffer the same fate here as it has in Arunachal Pradesh," said Bhai Virendra.