The opposition RJDs claim of an impending split in the ruling Janata Dal (United) in Bihar on Wednesday met with an outright rebuttal by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, its de facto leader.
"Baseless" and "lacking any substance" was how Kumar described the claim made by Shyam Rajak, a former member of his cabinet who had joined the RJD ahead of the recent assembly polls.
Rajak, who switched sides upon expulsion from the JD(U) for anti-party activities, had claimed earlier in the day that 17 MLAs of Kumars party, more than a third of its strength in the assembly, were willing to join the RJD.
The former JD(U) national general secretary, who was the partys deputy leader in the previous assembly, had said that the rebellious MLAs were uncomfortable in the face of a domineering BJP and Kumars alleged capitulation.
"The split will eventually take place. We have asked the 17 MLAs to hold on for some time. Their number is likely to go up soon and there would be enough of them for causing a split, as per the anti-defection law", Rajak had said.
JD(U) had won 43 seats in the recently concluded Bihar polls.
As per the law, a split is recognised only when at least two-thirds of a partys strength in a House forms a separate group. Else, crossing over to another party invites disqualification.
There has been some turmoil in the JD(U), of late, following the recent development in Arunachal Pradesh where all but one of its MLA joined the BJP.
The JD(U) has expressed hurt over the development, but qualified the same by asserting that it would not have an impact on its ties with the BJP in Bihar.
However, when Kumar was approached by journalists regarding the claim made by Rajak, he responded with a dismissive laugh.
"Whoever is making such claims......it is baseless (bebuniyaad) and without any substance (koi dam nahin hai)", said Kumar, who headed the JD(U) until Sunday last when he relinquished the post of its national president in a sudden move that has triggered speculations about his future
Kumar chose his close confidant RCP Singh as his successor in the party.