Even as the LJP and JD(U) exchanged jibes on Tuesday, the grand alliance partners signalled that they were open to accommodating the LJP and asked party president Chirag Paswan to “not tolerate insult” in the NDA.
This comes a day after the LJP decided to put up a list of 143 names for the Bihar Assembly elections and authorise Chirag to take a final call on whether to contest the elections under leadership of Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar. Chirag is likely to take the final call in a week.
JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi told The Indian Express: “It is the LJP that keeps saying it has no alliance with us. I would say in reaction that technically we never had any alliance with LJP right from 1998 Lok Sabha election to 2005 and 2010 Assembly elections. LJP not accepting Nitish as NDA leader in Bihar is defying Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former BJP president Amit Shah and current BJP president J P Nadda, who have said on many occasions that Bihar Assembly polls would be fought under Nitish’s leadership.”
Tyagi added that Chirag was giving electoral arsenal to rival RJD by criticising Nitish’s governance model.
Reacting to Tyagi’s remarks, LJP spokesperson Ashraf Ansari said: “We are thankful to Tyagi for telling us that we are not in alliance with JD(U)… Our leader Chirag Paswan is for ‘Bihar First, Bihari First. Those who are not with this thought cannot take Bihar forward.”
Another LJP leader said that several leaders believe that contesting polls independently would help revive the party organisation.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said: “The LJP is not going anywhere. Our national president J P Nadda had said clearly during the recent state executive meet that BJP-JD(U)-LJP makes a great winning combination.”
BJP sources in Delhi said that some senior party leaders had been in talks with Chirag to keep him in the NDA.
Grand Alliance constituents, however, were enthused by the developments. RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said: “Chirag must not tolerate any further insult in NDA.” Asked if RJD was open to an alliance with LJP, Tewari said: “We are open to working with anyone who is with our leader Tejaswi Yadav.” He added that RJD stood to gain even in a three-way contest.
A Congress leader said: “The election will become very interesting if there is a three-way contest. Caste calculations will be revisited if LJP walks out of NDA. Grand Alliance can also accommodate Chirag. If Chirag leaves NDA, its social arithmetic will fall flat.”
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