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After Bihar developments, BJP wants Chirag Paswan back on team NDA. But he has ‘preconditions’    

BJP wants the LJP (Ram Vilas) to help counter the JD (U) and the RJD. But Chirag Paswan has one ‘condition’ — his uncle Pashupati Paras’s ouster from the NDA.

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New Delhi:  Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan has indicated to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that he will think of renewing his alliance with the party only if the latter dumps his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras’s faction from the National Democratic Alliance, ThePrint has reliably learnt. 

A close aide of Chirag Paswan told ThePrint that while the party has been sending them “feelers” for a possible alliance, Chirag has set some pre-conditions. 

“Chirag Paswan is quite clear in his stance that his uncle Pashupati Paras and he can’t be together after all that has happened. He is quite clear that any alliance in Bihar for the Lok Sabha and the assembly elections will rest on this,” a source from LJP (Ram Vilas) told ThePrint. 

Pashupati Kumar Paras and his MPs are currently in the NDA alliance. Paras is a union minister. 

For the BJP, the alliance with Chirag’s Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) has become especially crucial since Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dumped the BJP last month to join forces yet again with the Mahagathbandhan — an alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, and the Left. 

Sources in the party said that although Chirag’s made it clear that he would only consider allying with the BJP if it dumps Paras, the BJP’s leadership believes that uniting the two warring factions would give them the best chance to counter the strong caste arithmetic of the JD(U)-RJD alliance. 

“BJP has to come up with a clear strategy to counter RJD and JD(U). Right now it doesn’t have a single ally with it if you discount Pashupati Paras. Bihar politics is purely based on caste arithmetic and hence it’s looking for allies,” a party source said. 

After infighting broke out within the LJP — a party that Ram Vilas Paswan founded in 2000 —  five of six LJP Members of Parliament in Lok Sabha ousted Chirag Paswan and elected his uncle and MP Pashupati Kumar Paras as the chief of the party in June.

Soon after resuming his “new responsibility”, Paras claimed he was trying to save the party from a “crisis”. He had also maintained that he would continue to be part of the NDA and had also praised the leadership of Nitish Kumar, who was then part of the NDA alliance. 

The party eventually split, with the Election Commission of India allocating separate names and symbols to the two warring leaders’ parties. 

The EC allocated the name ‘LJP (Ram Vilas)’ and ‘the helicopter’ symbol to Chirag and while Paras’s faction was given the name ‘Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party’, with the ‘sewing machine’ symbol. There’s currently a freeze on the LJP’s name and election symbol. 

Chirag had blamed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the split.

“After elections and before elections, few people from the party and few from Janata Dal-United tried to break our party. My father told me, when he was in ICU, about attempts to break the party. He also spoke to my uncle,” he told reporters then. 

Also Read: ‘Shankhnad for 2024’: Why BJP chose Muslim-dominated Seemanchal to kick off Bihar campaign

Countering RJD-JDU

Chirag’s aide told ThePrint that while the party’s central leaders and even some of NDA’s ministers had been in touch with Paswan for some time now, these calls have only increased since the political developments in Bihar.

According to sources, while BJP has not taken a stand on the entire matter, the party leadership wants to unite the warring factions which could prove beneficial for the Lok Sabha elections. At the same time, no formal meeting between Chirag Paswan and the BJP leadership has taken place so far.

With Nitish Kumar exiting the NDA camp, the BJP is faced with the prospect of scouting for new allies in one of the major Hindi heartland states. 

“Pashupati Paras is already facing a rebellion in his own party so the new scenario is simply in favour of Chirag Paswan,” a close aide of Chirag told ThePrint.  

The feud between Nitish Kumar and Chirag Paswan has been brewing for a long time. Chirag pulled out of the NDA just before the Bihar assembly elections in 2020, vowing to beat the Bihar chief minister. He even fielded several LJP candidates against the JD (U) and although he won only one seat, he made a significant dent in the JD(U)s tally, reducing the party to 43 seats. The LJP is believed to have cost the JD(U) as many as 40 seats. 

On Wednesday,  Chirag visited Surat to attend a Hindi Diwas function, which was addressed by Home minister Amit Shah. The development has created a buzz in political circles. 

Paswan is a member of the parliamentary committee on ‘Rajbhasha’ and was in Surat as part of the committee. 

It is learnt that Paswan was persuaded by the BJP leadership to attend the meeting. 

Also Read:  ‘Modi has no vision for Bihar’ – Why Chirag Paswan is now coming out against BJP

Bihar’s caste equations

The NDA won 39 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in 2019. That was, however, before Nitish Kumar’s exit from the alliance.

Its challenge now is to counter thesolid caste’ arithmetic of RJD-JD(U) — something it hopes to do with Chirag’s party and other smaller alliances. 

Bihar has 6 per cent Paswan voters who have supported the LJP in the past. It’s this chunk that the BJP’s now eyeing.

“So far, the party has told its state leadership that they need to focus on strengthening the state unit and preparing for the polls. Decisions regarding [the] alliance will be taken at the right time. There are still many smaller parties who want to align with the BJP,” said a senior BJP leader. 

Sources further told ThePrint that Chirag will not take any decision in “haste”.

Despite not contesting the Bihar assembly elections with Chirag Paswan’s LJP, the BJP has maintained cordial relations with him. He was also invited by Union minister Rajnath Singh, who had reached out to him and asked him to extend support to BJP’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. 

Although Chirag has also maintained that he is no longer part of the NDA, he too has maintained cordial relations. 

“Right now, the BJP needs him much more than Chirag [needs the BJP]. Even if BJP does not ally with him, he has nothing to lose. But the BJP had managed to get 39 seats during the Lok Sabha and that is crucial for it to maintain its overall tally.”

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ‘Pol-khol’: Bihar BJP plans rallies to ‘expose JD(U) lie factory’ about alliance split


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