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Bihar Assembly election: LJP keeps options open

Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

Continuing its tough stance against Janata Dal (United) President and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Lok Janshakti Party after a crucial meeting of its Bihar state parliamentary board, has decided to shortlist 143 candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls. The NDA ally could field candidates against the JD(U).

Also read: At JD(U)’s first virtual rally, Nitish lists govt’s achievements

However, for now, no concrete decision has been taken to walk out of the alliance in Bihar. As per the official statement, issued by the party, the State unit has left it to party president Chirag Paswan to take that call. A resolution to this effect was passed at the meeting. Walking out of the NDA in Bihar would also mean that Mr. Paswan’s father and party patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan would have to give up his cabinet post as Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Seat-sharing issue

The NDA in Bihar consists of the JD(U), BJP, LJP and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM). All the constituents of the alliance have maintained that so far no talks on seat sharing have taken place. The Bihar Assembly has a total of 243 seats.

Sources said that at Monday’s meeting, the members of the parliamentary board quoted public statements made by JD(U) leaders that the party was in alliance with the BJP and not the LJP.

Also read: Bihar Assembly elections | BJP, JD(U), LJP to fight polls together, says Nadda

“Now if the JD(U) themselves claim that we are not their partners then we should not shy away from fielding candidates against them in the upcoming elections,” one of the members said. The parliamentary board members also asserted that the LJP does not want to fight the Assembly election under the leadership of the JD(U), sources said.

Anti-incumbency

During the meeting, the members also flagged the growing anti-incumbency against Mr. Kumar, who has been Chief Minister now for 15 years, having completed his third term.

While taking a belligerent position against Mr. Kumar, sources said Mr. Paswan warned party cadres to refrain from making personal attacks on HAM president Manjhi.

Also read: In poll-bound Bihar, parties vie for more seats, explore new formations

The party had timed the meeting of the parliamentary board to coincide with Mr. Kumar’s first virtual rally. Incidentally, in his speech of over an hour, the Bihar CM did not directly or indirectly refer to the LJP, blunting the party’s efforts to make the Bihar polls a direct battle between Mr. Paswan and Mr. Kumar.

In 2015, the LJP contested 42 seats; however, that seat share is expected to be reduced since the JD(U) was not a member of the NDA then. JD(U) leaders meanwhile believe that Mr. Paswan has been flexing his muscles at the behest of the BJP to lower the JD(U)’s claim for seats.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 4:37:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bihar-assembly-election-ljp-keeps-options-open/article32545273.ece

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