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Bihar elections | In or out of NDA: LJP to take a call on September 7

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar being welcomed by Union Minister Ram vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan in January 14, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

After months of posturing and public statements highlighting the “shortfalls” in governance by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) will take a call on Monday at a meeting of its State Parliamentary Board on whether to stay on in the National Democratic Alliance alliance (NDA), where the JD(U) is also a partner, or walk out.

The LJP Parliamentary Board will meet hours after the first virtual rally called by the JD(U) ahead of Bihar Assembly elections.

According to sources, at a meeting held in August last week, LJP president Chirag Paswan conveyed to BJP president JP Nadda his discomfort in working with the JD(U). “Our simple question was is there any one thing that the Nitish Kumar government has achieved which can be used as a poll plank in this Assembly elections,” a senior LJP leader said.

By pitching it as a direct battle between Mr. Kumar and Mr. Paswan, the LJP sees an opportunity to carve out a bigger role for itself. Currently, it has only two legislators in the Assembly. And the last credible performance was in 2005, when it won 29 seats in the Assembly polls. While at the same time, it wants to keep its relationship with the BJP intact.

Also read: I have not spoken to Nitish Kumar in almost a year: LJP president Chirag Paswan

“We are not against the BJP. Even if we fight the elections on our own, we will not put up candidates against the BJP. But we are definitely going to fight against the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar,” the LJP leader said.

When asked if the LJP will walk out of the NDA, Mr. Paswan told The Hindu, “As of now I am not saying that. Right now my priority is to strengthen the party’s organisation. And it is not only for my candidates to win. The LJP’s organisation should also be strong enough so that I can help my allies to win.”

Also read: BJP will decide face of NDA in Bihar Assembly polls: LJP

Both LJP and the JD(U) maintain that their alliance is with the BJP. They do not consider each other as an ally.

‘Not personal’

Mr. Paswan clarified that so far there had been no negotiations within the NDA on seat distribution, and asserted that his problems with Mr. Kumar were not personal.

“I have nothing against Nitish Kumar, my issues are ideological. All I am saying is we could have delivered far better governance in the past 15-years and I am only pointing out these shortfalls to my Chief Minister. This is why I strongly demand that even before any negotiations on the number of seats or names of seats, we should draft a common minimum programme,” he stated.

Mr Paswan claimed that he was ready with “Bihar First, Bihari First”, a vision document of his party that lays the road map for the state. “We will release our vision document the day elections are notified,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 3:21:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-or-out-of-nda-ljp-to-take-a-call-on-monday/article32524437.ece

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