Lone LJP MLA and party vice-president Zakir Hussain Khan resigns in protest
Claiming that the RJD-Congress alliance had “taken them for granted” over the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar for the Lok Sabha polls, the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) on Wednesday announced its decision to go for an “alternative alliance,” including returning to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance fold.
The decision came even as talks between the BJP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP over seat-sharing are under way. An announcement is expected to be made after the final go-ahead is given by the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, who will be in the capital on Thursday.
Officially, the BJP maintained that it would consider the LJP’s proposal to forge an alliance.
Though a section of the BJP in Bihar is against an alliance with the LJP, the Central leadership is learnt to be tilting in its favour.
The BJP is already in talks for forging alliances with southern parties such as the DMDK, the MDMK and the PMK in Tamil Nadu and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh. Party insiders feel that an early finalisation of alliances would work to the advantage of the party.
On whether the BJP is wary of the LJP, given it was the first ally to break away from the NDA after the Gujarat riots in 2002, party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: “We need the support of 121 crore people to make Mr. Modi the Prime Minister.”
Hinting that there was a trust deficit between the LJP and the RJD, Mr. Paswan said: “If between the RJD and the Congress one takes 25 seats and other 15 seats out of the 40 in the State, then they are saying that the LJP is irrelevant in Bihar.”
Mr. Paswan dismissed as a “non starter” the non-Congress, non-BJP bloc that is emerging.
Dismissing suggestions that a tie-up with the BJP would undermine his “secular” credentials Mr. Paswan said, “The LJP’s ideology is intact. There is no need to tell the world that Ram Vilas Paswan is secular.” The LJP did not win any Lok Sabha seat in the 2009 elections.
The BJP sources also said talks between the two parties regarding the alliance have reached an “advance” stage over seat sharing.
To questions about how he could align with Mr. Modi-led BJP when he had walked out of NDA Government in the wake of Gujarat riots, Mr. Paswan said “on the one hand there is personal emotion and on the other there is the party. The party is like my mother and its decision is binding on all“.
He said options for an alternative alliance are now open after the LJP’s decision on Wednesday. He also dismissed suggestions that aligning with BJP would undermine his secular credentials.
“LJP will stick to its ideology. There is no need to tell the world that Ram Vilas Paswan is secular. Our party has suffered hugely for the cause of secularism. I had even left NDA when such an occasion arose,” Mr. Paswan said.
To questions whether LJP has no problems aligning with Narendra Modi-led BJP, Ram Vilas Paswan said, “Opinion in LJP is not against going with BJP. A decision on alliance will be taken in 3-4 days since the party has given the responsibility for it....
“The party looks for a new option. It means that there is a deadlock in the old alternative. Our alliance was with the RJD. That option is now deadlocked. There is now no dialogue, no communication.”
Some BJP leaders have met Chirag. Talk is that BJP has offered seven seats to LJP, which is pressing for nine seats.
BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain had called on LJP chief a few days back while senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had visited Paswan on January 14 on the day of Makar Sankranti.
Mr. Paswan had left the NDA and resigned from the Vajpayee government after the Gujarat riots in 2002. LJP was part of the Congress-led UPA from 2004 to 2009 with Paswan being a Cabinet Minister at the Centre.
“Our alliance with RJD is now over,” LJP leader Rama Singh said after the meeting.
LJP sources said that talks for a tie-up between LJP and BJP have already progressed to a substantial level.
Under the arrangement discussed so far, BJP has agreed to spare seven out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar for Paswan’s party.
The seats for which there is a broad agreement so far include Hajipur, Samastipur, Jamui, Munger, Khagaria and Vaishali.
Asked whether LJP would have no problem with Modi in view of the 2002 riots taint, Mr. Chirag Paswan had said on Monday, “If the court has given its verdict and they say he (Modi) is clean, then I do not think it is an issue to talk about now.”
BJP, which has seen some of its Bihar leaders opposing the tie-up move, has not come on record on the issue with its central leaders saying they can say anything only if something concrete happens.
The party, which is keenly trying to woo dalits, is expected to get a boost if a pre-poll alliance with LJP fructifies.
Congress, which was keen for a tie-up with RJD and LJP, has been maintaining that Paswan was only posturing and will not join NDA.
Party leader Shakeel Ahmed on Wednesday said that he failed to understand how Paswan could join hands with BJP after walking out of NDA on Gujarat riots issue.
Lone MLA quits LJP over possible tie-up with BJP
Amid indications of LJP forging ties with BJP for the coming general elections Zakir Hussain Khan, the lone MLA of Ramvilas Paswan’s party resigned from it on Wednesday.
“I have faxed my resignation from the post of vice-president of LJP,” Mr. Khan, MLA of Araria, told PTI.
Mr. Khan said he has put in the papers in protest against the party going along with ‘communal’ BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
He said he had made his position clear to Mr. Paswan that he cannot be part of any alliance with BJP and had expressed his reservation against going with it before LJP parliamentary board.
Asked about his future plans, Mr. Khan said he would explore political options to strengthen secularism.
After the 2010 Assembly elections, two out of three LJP MLAs had quit the party and joined Nitish Kumar’s bandwagon. Zakir Hussain Khan was the lone party MLA left.
LJP national general secretary Vijendra Chaudhary has also expressed strong reservation against any tie-up with BJP.