- Chirag meets Amit Shah, Nadda
- Wants to support BJP, oppose JD-U
Paswans in Bihar appear to be veering to the concept of friendly contest with the BJP by going out of the NDA alliance at the State level. The junior Paswan, Chirag, who is heading Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), had meetings with BJP president J.P. Nadda and former party president and home minister, Amit Shah, in Delhi on Thursday. BJP will not field candidates in the constituencies where LPJ would be in serious contest. Chirag has assured the BJP leaders that in the post-election scenario, the LJP would support the BJP chief ministerial candidate.
“Modi se bair nahin, Nitish teri Khair nahi,” which means there would be no enmity with Modi and no friendship with Nitish, would be the slogan the Paswans are going to display in Bihar elections. As announced earlier, Chirag would stick to 143 seats for which his party would contest. Ever since Nitish had admitted former chief minister and the first Maha Dalit leader to occupy the top most position, Jitan Ram Manjhi, the chief of Hindustani Awami Morcha, into the alliance, Paswans have been attacking NItish Kumar. Ram Vilas Paswan has been the only Dalit face in the NDA as far as Bihar is concerned. Another Dalit leader in the alliance is considered to be a problem.
Chirag said his party will continue to be a part of NDA at the national level, but would be outside the alliance at the State level. Which means, the LJP is not going to walk out of the alliance and Ram Vilas Paswan, the senior leader and founder of the party, would continue to be a member of Modi’s Cabinet. Ram Vilas has not been very actively involved in the State election campaign due to his indifferent health. Chirag has tried to sell his new plan to the BJP leaders. In 2015, the BJP was the senior partner of the NDA alliance since NItish Kumar’s JD-U was in alliance with the RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress. Now that the JD-U is going to play big brother among the alliance partners, the BJP has to settle down to a mere hundred seats while it contested 157 seats in 2015. The LJP would accommodate the BJP candidates on its ticket in the constituencies it would contest against the JD-U.
Would BJP accept?
But the game is too clever by half and would surely bother NItish Kumar. Would BJP accept the formula or not is the question. Accepting the formula would rub the chief minister on the wrong side. Nitish Kumar has been unpredictable with making and breaking alliances. The LJP might follow Mayawati formula and put up upper caste candidates on its ticket to fight the JD-U candidates. The basic premise of the whole exercise is that Nitish Kumar has become unpopular and it is not safe to put all the eggs in his basket. BJP leaders also feel that the chief minister who has been in power for 15 years is facing triple anti-incumbency factor. The idea being floated by Chirag is that his party candidates would gather anti-Nitish, anti-Lalu and pro-Modi and pro-Paswan votes and win in the elections.
LJP to contest 143 seats
But the presence of the LJP is not as strong as Paswans want the people to believe. In 2015, it contested for 42 seats and won just two with a total vote share of 4.83 percent. It is an aggressive stand to take on LJP’s part since it would not get more than25 seats even if JD-U and the BJP contested for one hundred seats each. That was the reason why Chirag has been campaigning against Nitish Kumar for almost a year. He has been preparing to contest 143 seats unmindful of the winning chances. “The profile of the party would go up if it contested for more than fifty percent of the seats. It will not remain a 5 percent vote party anymore,” said one of the LJP leaders.