Rocked by dissidence after the ruling JD(U) snapped ties with it last month, Bihar BJP on Sunday suspended its MLA Amarnath Gami, who had rebelled against senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi, and lashed out at Nitish Kumar government for "luring" its legislators.
The JD(U), however, claimed there was "panic" in BJP and that eight of its MLAs were ready to "cross over" as they were unhappy with their leadership.
Hitting out at JD(U), state BJP President Mangal Pandey said, "Our MLAs are being lured away. They are being offered Ministership and their relatives are being promised seats in the legislative council".
He accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of trying to shore up his numbers by wooing BJP legislators. "The day the Chief Minister expands his Council of Ministers, there will be a split in JD(U). So, he is trying to increase his numbers in the assembly".
State BJP Vice president Sanjay Mayukh said Pandey has suspended Gami for anti-party activities.
Gami, BJP MLA from Hayaghat in Darbhanga district, had accused former Deputy Chief Minister Modi of being power hungry, monopolising party affairs and promoting sycophants while neglecting genuine workers like him.
"Sushil Modi has hijacked the party. He does not want party cardres to progress and therefore he suppresses them," Gami had said and slammed the leadership for supporting a leader with "no mass base".
The JD(U) broke its alliance with BJP in mid June after it appointed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as election campaign committee chief.
"There is panic within BJP. Many of the MLAs had demanded open voting on the confidence motion after Nitish Kumar parted ways with the NDA," JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari said, adding that eight BJP MLAs were ready to cross over.
"There is deep discontentment within BJP. Their leaders like to be in media limelight rather than among the people," he said.
After dumping BJP, Nitish Kumar government had comfortably won a vote of confidence in the 243-member Bihar Assembly with Congress backing it.
A total of 126 votes, including four of Congress and one of CPI, were cast in favour of the confidence motion while 24, including 22 of Lalu Prasad-led RJD, voted against the motion as BJP members staged a walkout before the vote.
Those who voted in favour of the motion included JD(U)'s 117 and four Independents. BJP has 91 MLAs in the Assembly.
BJP leader CP Thakur said efforts were on to pacify the "angry" MLAs.
"We will try and sort the issue with discussion. The solution has to come from both sides, BJP party and the MLAs who want to quit. We are not sure why these MLAs are angry. We need to talk and discuss the issue," said Thakur, who is former state unit chief and has strained ties with Sushil Kumar Modi and his associate Mangal Pandey.
Thakur has been sulking since Pandey replaced him as state unit chief in January this year.