Expressing “shock” and “concern” over seat sharing arrangement for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls, Union minister Ramvilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) lent speculation of disquiet within the BJP-led NDA fold. Just a day ago, BJP president Amit Shah had announced the final seat sharing pact arrived at by the four-party NDA after senior partner BJP had held hectic parleys with the allies. But now, the remarks made by the LJP have once again stoked a whiff of speculations.
“We were not angry but definitely there were concerns in the party. We were shocked. There is no smoke without fire,” party’s Parliamentary Board chairman Chirag Paswan told a press conference in New Delhi.
32-years old Chirag Paswan, the son of LJP founder Ramvilas Paswan also added that the party is “taken aback” after learning about the final formulae of the seat share ratio.
“There was no anger but discontent as there was a difference between the seat sharing formula we were told about earlier and what was announced yesterday. So we were taken aback,” he said.
Chirag Paswan, however, insisted that the alliance is intact.
Apprising the press pack of his meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah late Monday night, he said that the BJP chief told him there are certain “complusions in coalition dharma” and that he will try to accommodate the concerns of the LJP “as much as possible”.
“We have apprised the BJP chief about about our concerns. We are happy that our concerns have been honoured and we are moving towards a solution,” the first time MP from Jamui claimed.
Meanwhile, Union Minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan also met with the LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan Tuesday morning amid the reports of persisting differences within the main challenger NDA.
“Ram Vilas Paswan ji a leader of stature… There was no such demand (about more seats)… Nobody said any such thing (when Shah announced the seat sharing pact),” Mr Pradhan said when asked if the NDA’s second largest partner LJP was angry and wanted more seats.
Interestingly, Ram Vilas Paswan himself refused to speak on the issue, saying he does not talk to the media about such things and left it to his son to do the talking. According to sources, there is a feeling within the LJP that Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Khushwaha-led RLSP got a “better deal” which was disproportionate to their political clout in the state.
On record though, Chirag Paswan, deputed by his father to clear the air, insisted that the alliance is intact, describing Kushwaha’s RLSP and Manjhi’s as “family”.
“There is no reason–number of seats or anything else– due to which LJP would part ways with the BJP. There is no question of any dispute with Manjhi ji as his party cannot be given seats under any formula as he had neither contested Lok Sabha nor state Assemly polls in past,” said Chirag Paswan.
Once again emphasising that the alliance will come out victorious, the LJP leader dropped hints of seeming unhappiness within the party.
“The number of seats was not a concern for LJP. Concern was that LJP should have been given seats on the basis on which others were given. But we have always respected coalition dharma. Our alliance is intact and we will together win Bihar polls,” he asserted.
The five phase Bihar Assembly polls are scheduled to begin on October 12 and the results will be announced on November 8. The incumbent JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘grand’ alliance is facing a testing challenge from the BJP-led NDA.
(With inputs from the PTI)