Even though the BJP on Tuesday rushed to reiterate its confidence in the leadership of Nitish Kumar, and made it clear that dissent on this matter was not acceptable, several failed BJP ticket-seekers continue to join the LJP, and are being fielded against JD(U) candidates.
Former BJP MLA Usha Vidyarthi on Wednesday joined the LJP, and is set to contest from Paliganj against JD(U) MLA Jayvardhan Yadav. At least 15 failed BJP ticket-seekers have approached the LJP for tickets.
This is notwithstanding the fact that two top BJP leaders, Rameshwar Chourasia and Rajendra Singh, have reportedly got calls from top leaders of the party, and may not eventually contest as LJP nominees.
Even though JD(U) national president and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar reacted warmly to the BJP’s assertion of confidence in his leadership, tension between the two alliance partners is simmering just below the surface.
Distrust between the workers of the JD(U) and BJP has been rising at the ground level. Some BJP rebels in the LJP camp have been claiming they have the support of the BJP cadre — even though top BJP leaders have been sending out a clear message to workers that they should support JD(U) candidates.
The BJP has, in fact, been unable to convince JD(U) workers of its sincerity at the booth level in several seats. Said a JD(U) leader: “A calculated move by the BJP to damage our prospects at over a dozen seats cannot be ruled out. As we get closer to the elections, this will become more evident. Even if BJP workers simply become passive, it would mean supporting the LJP, and even helping the RJD indirectly. We can see through this plan.”
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This JD(U) leader claimed there was a strong impression among the people that the “LJP (was) doing proxy” for the BJP. This is a cause of concern for us. BJP state leaders should try to allay this impression,” the leader said.
According to this leader, the JD(U) is yet to be fully convinced that the BJP is playing absolutely straight — and if the trend of failed BJP ticket-seekers looking to enter the race by other means continues in the coming two phases as well, the relationship between the NDA allies could sour.