Disquiet seems to be brewing in the JD(U) camp after several BJP candidate hopefuls seem set to contest for former NDA ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) after being denied tickets by the saffron party.
This comes even as the BJP has sent out a strong message that Nitish Kumar is the leader of NDA in the state, and any BJP leader defying his leadership would be sternly dealt with.
The big names joining the Chirag Paswan-led party over the last couple of days are senior BJP leaders Rajendra Singh, Rameshwar Chourasia and Usha Vidyarthi. The three are set to contest from Dinara, Sasaram and Paliganj constituencies, respectively, for LJP.
Also Read | ‘Bihar polls: Tech to play limited role’
It is learnt that the BJP’s top leaders failed to dissuade the three from contesting as LJP nominees against JD(U) candidates.
It is learnt that at least a dozen BJP leaders have approached the LJP for tickets for Assembly segments going to the polls in the second and third phases — on November 3 and 7, respectively. Sources in LJP claimed some JD(U) rebels are also seeking tickets from the party.
While Singh filed his nomination on Wednesday from Dinara, Chourasia and Vidyarthi are likely to file their nominations on Thursday.
Vidyarthi, a former MLA, is set to contest from Paliganj against JD(U)’s Jayvardhan Yadav, grandson of former MP Ramlakhan Singh Yadav.
Singh, who has an RSS background, was being considered BJP’s CM candidate the last time before he lost to JD(U)’s Jay Kumar Singh from Dinara.
Chourasia, a former MLA from Nokha, was known to be a staunch supporter of PM Narendra Modi. After joining LJP, he said, “It is sin to vote for JD(U).”
Sources said Singh and Chourasia had almost agreed not to contest as LJP nominees after calls from a top BJP leader, but later agreed to file nomination after a call from Chirag.
A JD(U) leader said, “The onus is on BJP to keep explaining to people throughout the election that Nitish Kumar is the NDA leader and LJP is not BJP’s dummy. Distrust is fast building up among our workers. If BJP workers are found helping the LJP or even becoming passive, our workers would also become passive towards helping BJP candidates in other constituencies.”
Asked whether BJP is attempting to hurt JD(U)’s prospects, the JD(U) leader said, “BJP would never want NDA to lose power in Bihar. It has to send a stern message to its workers — maybe joint rallies by senior NDA leaders could clear the confusion.”
The JD(U) leader maintained that BJP “needs Nitish Kumar more” than he needs the saffron party.
BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “There is no confusion after our top leaders reiterated that Nitish Kumar would be the NDA CM candidate, irrespective of the seat position of NDA constituents.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines