Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday kept everyone guessing about his possible return to the NDA. Even though LJP sources, on one hand, said that the talks about forming an alliance were on, the BJP rubbished it altogether.
“I’m not aware. There is no truth in the reports,” said BJP chief Rajnath Singh on the speculation that LJP was carrying out back-channel talks with his party. “If there’s an announcement, you will know”.
Rajnath Singh met party general secretary in-charge of Bihar Dharmendra Pradhan, senior leader Shahnawaj Hussain, state unit chief Mangal Pandey and leaders of opposition in state legislature Sushil Modi and Nandkishore Yadav along with party general secretary (ogranisation) Ramlal in the wake of overtures of alliance from the LJP and the reports of split in Lalu Prasad-led RJD in the state.
The BJP leaders were learnt to be wary of the fact that Paswan has kept distance from negotiations. Party leaders were learnt to be in the favour of guaging whether LJP was genuinely keen for a pre-poll alliance or using their negotiations as a bargaining chip against RJD-Congress to extract more seats. Sources said Singh has summoned state-level leaders to seek their opinion on the evoloving political situation and potential political realignments. LJP’s demand for 12 seats is another sticking point in the negotiations.
However, Paswan’s son and the party’s parliamentary board chief Chirag Paswan said that the board would meet and formally decide on the matter soon.
Amidst this, the Congress indicated that Paswan was still in talks with key Congress leaders over seat sharing. The LJP apparently wants to contest in 10 seats, they said.