The ruling coalition in Bihar on Friday appeared headed for a split possibly on Sunday, with JD(U) saying that "problems" and "difficulties" have arisen in the wake of Narendra Modi's elevation in BJP.
Top JD(U) leaders, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and party chief Sharad Yadav, are expected to meet in Patna on Sunday to take a call on the future of its alliance with BJP.
JD(U) Legislature Party Chief Whip Shravan Kumar said MLAs have been asked to be "in touch" and to be "available", though no formal meeting has been called.
The party gave clear signs yet again of an imminent split with BJP, saying there are problems and the situation is "difficult" while a senior party leader lashed out at BJP.
While JD(U) came under attack from the ally's Bihar unit, the central BJP leadership maintained that it wants the alliance in the interest of opposition unity and honouring the people's mandate.
Returning from a two-day 'seva yatra' for consultations with the JD(U) leadership on Saturday over the alliance issue, Kumar said, "The situation is such that there are problems (in continuing the alliance)."
"Dua dete hain jeene ki, dawa karte hain marne ki. Dushwari ka sabab yeh hain. (They blessing is for life but the medicine is for death). That is the crux of the problem," he told reporters in Patna.
He was replying to a question whether it is going to be the end of the 17-year alliance between JD(U) and BJP.
He said the situation is difficult and what is to be done in this difficult situation is being discussed by all.
"On the one hand, some are giving suggestions that it is such an old alliance that it should continue. On the other hand, the conditions are such that there are problems," Kumar said.
Back-channel confabulations between top brass of BJP andJD(U) are on since Wednesday to save the alliance which has been shaky since Gujarat Chief Minister was anointed head of BJP election campaign committee.
Sources said while BJP is firm that the decision – which is the bone of contention between the two parties – is non-negotiable, it is making all efforts to convince JD(U) that the alliance is needed.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav appeared hopeful of a rapprochement but sources in the party described the situation as "a point of no return".
In a clear indication of things to come, party general secretary Shivanand Tiwari accused BJP of "forcing" JD(U) to come out of NDA by projecting Narendra Modi.
"BJP wants that the blame for breaking the alliance comes on JD(U) but the fact is otherwise. We had made our stand clear long time back. Our opinion on Modi was well-known. We never invited Modi in Bihar for any election that the NDA fought there," Tiwari said.
"Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had also made his opinion about Modi's projection clear without naming him at the party's national executive in Delhi some time back. Even after this, they made him the campaign committee chief and projected him as their leader. They are forcing us to quit the NDA," Tiwari told PTI.
On BJP asking JD(U) leaders to exercise restrain, Tiwari said, "They (BJP) want to force us out of the alliance. That is why they did this knowing well the stand of their oldest ally."
Commenting on the developments, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "Only a united opposition can defeat Congress. Whenever opposition got united, Congress was defeated. Therefore, NDA's unity is a historical necessity. We must do everything to keep NDA united."
BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "We hope that at least their (JD-U)senior leaders should ask their other leaders to exercise restrain on the language they use".
The view among a number of JD(U) leaders is, however, that after Modi's projection and the hype surrounding his elevation, "no other options are left" than parting ways.
Asked about possibility of any rapprochement with BJP, Yadav, however, said, "Why not? Options are still not closed."