LJP party sources say Chirag Paswan has also demanded two of the 12 legislative council seats
The BJP-led alliance is struggling to hold together a widening rift in Bihar between two key allies ahead of state elections due later this year. The sharp differences between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lok Janshakti Party’s Chirag Paswan are becoming too obvious to ignore.
The tension between the two regional party bosses came into the spotlight once again as Chirag Paswan, whose father Ram Vilas Paswan is a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, removed a district president in Munger for issuing a statement that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is united in Bihar.
The letter announcing the removal said his statement was against the party line and only the Lok Janshakti party’s national president could make such statements.
LJP party sources say Chirag Paswan has also demanded two of the 12 legislative council seats that will be filled from the Governor’s quota.
Paswan junior has conveyed to BJP leaders that based on seat-sharing in last year’s national election, the distribution should be five, five, two.
So far, it was a given that of 12 seats, seven would go to Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United and the remaining would go to the BJP.
The Janata Dal United has now hardened its stand and ruled out any seat-sharing for assembly polls where Chirag Paswan’s party is also a partner. The LJP will have to ask for seats from the BJP’s share, said a JDU leader. “We have had enough of his (Chirag Paswan’s) sermons and the letters he writes and gives the press clearly to embarrass the Nitish Kumar government,” the leader said.
A series of meetings have taken place to resolve the feud.
In May, Chirag Paswan rattled the Chief Minister with his comment that he would support the BJP “whether it goes with Nitish Kumar’s leadership or changes its mind”.
The BJP has declared Nitish Kumar the chief ministerial face of the ruling NDA for the Bihar election
“Who will be the face, who will be the leader of the alliance is something that its largest constituent BJP has to decide. The LJP is strongly with the BJP in whatever decision it takes. If they (BJP) want to go ahead with Nitish Kumar ji, we are with them, if they want to have a change of mind… whatever decision the BJP takes, we will support,” Mr Paswan told Press Trust of India in an interview.
Mr Paswan’s comment signaled that he will deal with the BJP rather than Nitish Kumar when it comes to the allocation of seats for the Bihar contest.
Nitish Kumar yesterday met BJP national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav.
Mr Yadav had met Chirag Paswan in Delhi on Saturday last and is believed to have assured him that his party, the smallest coalition partner in the state, would get a fair deal in the assembly election.
“The LJP has also expressed the desire to have greater representation in the state legislative council, where it has one member,” said sources quoted by Press Trust of India.
The LJP had two Members of Legislative Council earlier. One of them, Ram Vilas Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras, was elected to parliament last year.
Nitish Kumar, more than once designated by top BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah as the man who will lead the NDA in the Bihar polls, is wary of Chirag Paswan’s growing claims. Those close to him say he is wary of any formula that gives the BJP an edge if it ends up winning a greater number of seats, and a chance to pick its own Chief Minister.
BJP leaders say the demand for an equal share in assembly poll seats is legit after its “sacrifice” in the general elections.
“We had won 22 seats in the 2014 elections. The LJP was with us back then and the JDU contested independently. In 2019, we agreed to contest 17 seats, giving as many to the JDU. Party cadres do not want the leadership to be seen as yielding too much to the JDU,” said BJP sources quoted by PTI.
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