New Delhi: The BJP, which is witnessing strained ties with allies in Maharashtra and poll-bound Jharkhand, was left with more questions on Tuesday as it ally in Bihar, the ruling Janata Dal (United), openly expressed its support for anti-corruption crusader and former Jharkhand minister Saryu Rai, who will contest as an independent candidate against Chief Minister Raghubar Das from Jamshedpur East.

Rai had, on Saturday, resigned as MLA and minister after the BJP denied him ticket to contest the upcoming five-phase Assembly polls.

Speaking at a press conference in state capital Ranchi, Rajiv Ranjan, the JD(U)’s Lok Sabha MP, indicated that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a college mate of Saryu Rai, might even personally campaign for him. “Saryu Rai has always fought against corruption, and even as a minister in the Jharkhand government, consistently raised his voice against corruption over the last five years,” he said.

“Since he launched a crusade against corruption, he was denied ticket by the BJP. He will now fight a symbolic battle against CM Raghubar Das, and we, the JD(U), welcome and support his stand. If Saryu Rai requests, we will urge Nitish ji to campaign for him,” Rajiv Ranjan added.

Rai is famous for exposing many scams in undivided Bihar as well as in Jharkhand after its formation, after being carved out of Bihar.

Congress has fielded its national spokesperson Gourav Vallabh from Jamshedpur East.

Votes for the 81-seat Jharkhand Assembly will be cast on November 30, December 7, 12, 16 and 20. The result will be announced on December 23.

Bihar, meanwhile, will go to polls next year.