LJP’s shift towards BJP was not sudden; it happened over a few months

As he finalised an alliance with BJP president Rajnath Singh on Thursday night, Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan phoned Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at Gujarat Bhawan in the national capital.

“I am with you and will work to make you the Prime Minister,” Mr. Paswan told Mr. Modi. The LJP chief wanted to meet Mr. Modi, but the latter was busy.

Mr. Paswan’s somersault — from being a staunch critic of Mr. Modi to a follower — was not sudden; it happened over the past few months, sources said. His disagreement with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal over sharing of seats was insignificant.

“He was clear where he wanted to be,” a BJP source said.

In December, Mr. Paswan’s brother Pashupati Nath Paras approached leaders of the BJP Bihar unit for an alliance.

The BJP leaders were wary in the beginning, as they feared that Mr. Paswan was trying to use the party as a bargaining chip with the Congress.

But Mr. Modi let the party president keep the conversation going, aided by Bihar leaders Sushil Modi, Ravishankar Prasad and Shahnawaz Hussain.

To test Mr. Paswan’s seriousness, the BJP asked him to state publicly his revised position on Mr. Modi.

Early this week, the LJP chief’s son Chirag Paswan said, “The courts had given a clean chit to Mr. Modi,” and the Gujarat riots were no longer relevant.

“We cannot be without power for another five years. The only choice to make is whether to join the BJP before or after the elections,” an LJP insider quoted Mr. Chirag Paswan as saying at an internal meeting.

Seat share

While the Congress offered the LJP three of Bihar’s six reserved constituencies, where Mr Paswan, his son and brother would have contested, the BJP gave him seven.

The seventh, Nalanda, is not a stronghold of either party.