The recent chumminess between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the centre has confounded his allies -and now, senior ministers. This morning, union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag visited BJP chief Amit Shah. Their mission was a delicate one - figuring out how to treat Nitish Kumar and his party: as a partner-in-the-making or as a member of the opposition who can be attacked in what is quickly developing into a belligerent session of parliament.
Sources said the BJP chief gave nothing away, stating only, "You are doing a good job. Keep it up." Sources later told NDTV that the Paswans felt that the mysterious stance of the chief matched the mixed messages that have been emanating from Mr Kumar and his party.
The Bihar Chief Minister has generated reams of disquiet in recent weeks by standing with the BJP on crucial issues despite being among the most prominent members of what was supposed to be a united opposition front and of which he was an early proponent. Mr Kumar supported the BJP's candidate for President of India, contributing to the victory of Ram Nath Kovind over opposition nominee Meira Kumar; he has also not dismissed a corruption case against Tejashwi Yadav, his 28-year-old Deputy, as political vendetta by the centre, which has put his alliance in Bihar under visible strain.
Mr Kumar runs his government with the Congress and the RJD, the party that is led by Tejashwi Yadav's father, Bihar heavyweight Lalu Yadav. The Chief Minister demanded and finally got an in-person explanation from Tejashwi Yadav last week of the charges against him. He has not publicly said that the defense has put an end to the crisis.
Instead, he met over the weekend in Delhi with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and reportedly made it clear that he will not allow his government's reputation to be smeared by the variety of corruption cases that are emerging against the Yadavs.
With signs of a break point, the BJP has offered that if Mr Kumar decides to dump Lalu Yadav, it is available with external support to ensure he remains in office- it will back him without formally joining the government.
Mr Kumar's party has said it remains a member of the 18-party front created to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the general election in 2019, but the Chief Minister's actions have been at cross-purposes with those statements. He skipped two crucial meetings of the anti-BJP league, finding reasons not to travel to Delhi, but was present at first a lunch and then a dinner hosted by the PM.