The Lok Janshakti Party at a meeting of its Parliamentary Board has decided to contest on its own in the upcoming Bihar Assembly poll. The decision, however, does not mar its political ties with the BJP with the party saying it will not contest against any BJP candidate and will support the latter in a post-poll scenario.
In an official statement released after the Parliamentary Board meeting chaired by party President Chirag Paswan, the party said that at a national level the party has strong ties with the BJP but at the State level, because of ideological differences with the JD(U), it has decided to go it alone.
The Hindu had reported on October 2 that the LJP would contest outside the alliance to mop up pro-BJP and anti-Nitish Kumar votes. It planned to take on the JD(U) with the slogan BJP se bair nahi, Nitish teri Khair nahi ( No enmity with Modi but won’t spare [Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) President] Nitish Kumar).
The LJP in its official statement also said it will work towards a BJP-LJP government in Bihar. “LJP believes that on the lines of the BJP government in the Centre, the Bihar government should also be led by BJP,” the statement said.
In the seat sharing formula under discussion among the NDA allies, the LJP was being offered only 25 odd seats.
An official announcement of seats and candidates is expected once the BJP sorts out its seat arrangement between the JD(U) and Jiten Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha.
The LJP’s decision is a culmination of many months of a belligerent campaign against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar by party president Chirag Paswan. Mr. Paswan had accused the Bihar CM of taking forward the saat nischey or “seven promises” agenda that was originally part of the RJD-JD(U) government in 2015. Mr Paswan had started work on his party’s own vision document — “Bihar First, Bihari First” — and at Sunday’s meeting all leaders backed this document. The party has decided to base its campaign on this document.
Mr Paswan had also accused Mr. Kumar of not listening to feedback from alliance partners, going to the extent of saying that for over a year he has not spoken to Bihar CM as the latter refused to reply to any of his letters or respond to phone calls. The LJP chief was also severely critical of the Nitish government’s handling of the migrant crisis during the pandemic and slammed him for the crumbling infrastructure of the State after 15 years under him.
The party’s Parliamentary Board meeting was originally scheduled for Saturday evening but had to be postponed as party patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan had to undergo an emergency heart surgery. He has been admitted at a Delhi hospital for nearly a month now. In a tweet, Mr. Chirag Paswan said his father had undergone a heart surgery due to sudden developments on Saturday evening, which forced him to cancel the party meeting.
If needed, the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution will undergo another operation in a few weeks, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior leaders spoke to Mr Chirag Paswan about the health of his father, LJP sources said.