Rajya Sabha by-election for the seat vacated by the death of LJP patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan is seen as an opportunity to further crystalise the relationship between the BJP and JD(U), after an Assembly election that saw questions being raised over the BJP’s purported lack of enthusiasm in checking Chirag Paswan’s aggressive attack on the JD(U).
Although the name of Chirag’s mother Reena Paswan is doing the rounds, the LJP may not field her until BJP asks the party to do so, it is learnt.
In all likelihood, the BJP may push for its own candidate for the lone Rajya Sabha berth. In the House of 243 members, the NDA candidate needs support of 122 MLAs to retain the Rajya Sabha seat – the alliance has 125, besides the solitary LJP seat.
The Election Commission of India has said that by-election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat will be held on December 14. The notification will be issued on November 26, with December 3 being the last date of filing nomination.
Opinion | Ram Vilas Paswan: The true Karmyogi
Ram Vilas Paswan, whose term was up to April 2, 2024, was given the berth in the Upper House as part of 2019 Lok Sabha seat-sharing arrangement between BJP and LJP, which included six Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha berth. The LJP won all six Lok Sabha seats it contested.
BJP chance to show LJP not its ‘B-team’
Sources in LJP told The Indian Express that the party might not field its candidature until the BJP gives it a go-ahead. “Since it is quite unlikely that the JD(U) will support our candidate, there is little chance of us fielding our candidate,” a source in the party said.
A source in JD(U) said there is no question of the party supporting LJP after it “hurt JD(U) on many seats” in the recent Assembly polls.
The BJP, too, is not likely to do anything that could alienate it from JD(U). “In fact, the BJP is most likely to use the opportunity to further clarify its distance from LJP,” a BJP leader said.
While RJD is trying a subtle mindgame with the NDA by giving indications that it could support Reena Paswan’s possible candidature, the LJP may not take this gamble, as it would clearly mean “further distancing” from BJP, party insiders said. The LJP is still an NDA ally at the Centre.
An RJD leader said, “The Grand Alliance’s support of 110 MLAs may not result in the victory of LJP but it could politically suit us. But it is hypothetical.”
BJP sources said the saffron party is most likely to field a candidate under the circumstances. “Some names doing the round include those of BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, former Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and Rituraj Sinha, son of Rajya Sabha member R K Sinha,” a BJP source said, adding that no word has come yet from the party’s central leadership.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines