Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said he was in no hurry to decide on the sharing of seats between his Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported. He said reports of a rift between the two parties were all “hot air”.

On Sunday, the Janata Dal (United) had announced that it would contest some seats in Assembly polls in Mizoram, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year on its own, even as it remains a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for the 2019 elections.

Kumar said that his party’s alliance with the BJP was limited to Bihar. “We have done so [contest elections separately in states] in the past,” he said. “We fought and won a seat in Nagaland. This creates no problems or confusion as it has always been our stated position that the alliance between JD(U) and BJP is limited to Bihar.”

However, there is no question of his party becoming a part of any coalition to counter the BJP elsewhere, he said.

“I am sitting here alongside [Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader] Sushil Kumar Modi,” Kumar told reporters, when asked about reports of rift between the two parties. “It is amply clear that the government is functioning well and there is no problem between the two parties. All the issues relating to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be sorted out in due course and the outcome would be made public. There is no hurry.”

In June, Kumar had denied there was discontent in his party over its alliance with the BJP, and had said the coalition would together decide the sharing of seats for the 2019 elections. After reports stated that the JD(U) wanted 25 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Kumar had said some leaders were trying to seek publicity by making statements out of turn.

Kumar criticises Giriraj Singh for visiting VHP, Bajrang Dal leaders

While rejecting reports of a rift with the BJP, Nitish Kumar criticised Union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh for visiting jailed leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal in Nawada on Sunday. “This was not acceptable,” Kumar said, according to The Indian Express. “An open display of sympathy for those whom the administration has found guilty on some counts, is not proper. If someone appears to have been wrongly arrested, one should move the court against it.”

Singh had met the Bajrang Dal’s district coordinator in Nawada Jitendra Pratap alias Jitu ji, VHP district secretary Kailash Vishwakarma, and other functionaries of the two organisations. Pratap and Vishwakarma were arrested four days ago for their alleged role in communal clashes in the district last year.

“It is unfortunate the way Jitu Ji and Kailash ji have been framed,” Singh said. “When tension arose during Ram Navami in 2017, they restored peace in the area. They did the same when an idol of goddess Durga was vandalised in Akbarpur. Such action by the state government will only provoke the Hindu community.”