With the Congress keeping the question of an alliance hanging, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP has given signals of exploring a tie-up with the BJP. Sources in Delhi said Chirag Paswan, the chairman of the LJP’s parliamentary board, recently met BJP president Rajnath Singh.
“An alliance between us and the BJP has been finalised. A formal announcement will be made soon,” former LJP MP Surajbhan Singh said in Delhi after a meeting of party leaders at Paswan’s Delhi home Sunday. LJP national general secretary Abdul Khaliq, however, told The Indian Express, “Nothing has been finalised yet. The parliamentary board will meet in a couple of days to decide.”
And in Patna, BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi told The Indian Express, “We have not heard from Paswanji, though we will certainly discuss the prospect of an alliance if he approaches us. The way the UPA is trying to bully the LJP with the fear of a CBI probe (into a recruitment scam in Bokaro Steel) is condemnable.”
Paswan has been been a minister in both the NDA and UPA governments and was the first to quit NDA in 2002 over the Gujarat riots. Asked if he could align with Narendra Modi, Surajbhan Singh said, “When the court has given a clean chit to Narendra Modi, who are we to say anything?”
Party sources said though a section of the LJP is in favour of the tie-up, Paswan himself is still making up his mind.
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Of late he has openly expressed his frustration with the Congress’s lack of initiative in starting talks. Many view the current signals as muscle-flexing before the Congress and the RJD.
The RJD, in its preliminary talks with the Congress, has been reluctant to give more than three or four seats to Paswan’s party. The LJP is keen on Nawada and Araria but the RJD is setting its terms as it wants Araria for Md Taslimuddin.
The LJP wants its MLA Jakir Hussain Khan to contest from Araria, Surajbhan’s wife from Nawada, and Ramakishore Singh from Sheohar. From the BJP, it is hoping to get Hajipur, Samastipur and Jamui which Paswan, his brother Ramchandra and son Chirag are keen to contest.
BJP seals ties with Kushwaha’s RLSP
The BJP on Sunday announced an alliance with the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), giving it three seats. Though the BJP did not specify the seats, sources indicated Kushwaha’s party would contest Ujiyarpur, Karakat and Jehanabad.
Kushwaha said he would attend Narendra Modi’s rally at Muzaffarpur March 3 and support the BJP in a rail blockade to demand special status for Bihar. Kushwaha was once with JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar. The Kushwaha caste group accounts for over six per cent of Bihar’s votes. The alliance aims for the Koeri-Kurmi (called Luv-Kush) vote-bank, which was largely with the ruling alliance as long as Kushwaha was with Nitish.