New Delhi: Amid reports of being upset with BJP over one Rajya Sabha seat promised by the party months ago, Union Minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan on Thursday met BJP President Amit Shah.
According to reports, following the exit of Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP from the NDA, which joined hands with the opposition’s ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) on Thursday, a cautious BJP is now making all attempts to ensure that the LJP remains intact in the Bihar NDA, with Shah playing the role of peacemaker to pacify the sulking allies.
Paswan, however, refuted reports of discontent with the BJP over seat sharing in Bihar and said that Chirag is the chairman of the Parliamentary Board and he will decide on the issue.
“There is no animosity, whatever is our decision, will be taken by Chirag”
After Kushwaha’s exit from the Bihar NDA earlier this month, the BJP reportedly told the Paswans that they could now contest on six seats – two more than the previous four seats offered in the alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
However, the father-son duo is believed to be sulking over the offer of one Rajya Sabha seat that was promised to them by the saffron party.
Ram Vilas Paswan, wary of being allotted fewer seats in NDA to contest in next year’s Lok Sabha polls than it has been demanding, on Wednesday gave the BJP an ultimatum of December 31 to finalise the seat-sharing scheme for Bihar.
LJP state president Pashupati Kumar Paras demanded that his party should contest on the same number of seats in 2019 as they were given in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The LJP had won six out of seven seats in the last general elections.
While the party has been demanding seven seats to contest in the 2019 LS polls, BJP and JD(U) reportedly plan to give it only five seats. LJP is unwilling to accept any less than seven seats.
“Each drop counts for filling up a pond. Upendra Kushwaha (RLSP) and Jitan Ram Manjhi (HAM) have left. BJP president Amit Shah must hold a meeting of the remaining three parties in Bihar NDA and have proper coordination before entering the electoral field,” said Paras, the animal and fisheries minister in Bihar’s NDA government.
On Tuesday, LJP MP Chirag Paswan had said that “the NDA is going through a critical phase after RLSP and TDP left. The BJP should resolve the issues of other NDA partners in a respectable manner without delay”.
After Jitan Ram Manjhi left the NDA and joined hands with the grand secular alliance, Ram Vilas Paswan with a sizeable vote share of his own caste is considered one of the strongest Dalit leaders in NDA.
Ahead of the opposition’s meeting in the national capital, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav tried to lure Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) to walk out of the NDA to join the Mahagathbandhan. Referring to LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan as his ‘guardian’, Tejashwi said if Paswan’s party wasn’t happy with the BJP’s way of handling things in the alliance, it should walk out of it.
Earlier, RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, who walked out of NDA on December 10, advised LJP to snap ties with BJP immediately. “BJP is bent on destroying small regional parties. The sooner LJP quits NDA, the better it is for it,” said Kushwaha.
With the exit of Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), the NDA in Bihar is now left with the LJP and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).
Speculation is rife that following the BJP’s recent defeat in polls, the remaining two NDA constituents in Bihar may flex their muscles.