File photo of Chirag Paswan
File photo of LJP president Chirag Paswan | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Several BJP leaders from Bihar and Delhi lashed out at Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan Friday as they sought to “clear the confusion” created by the latter with respect to the parties’ “equation” for the state polls.

The LJP has walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, which is headed for assembly elections this month, but remains a part of it at the central level. Through the Bihar election campaign, Chirag Paswan has criticised NDA constituent Janata Dal (United) of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while showering praise on PM Narendra Modi. 

Paswan has talked about his desire for a BJP leader to take over as Chief Minister this year, and the LJP has mostly fielded candidates against the JD(U) and only a few against the BJP. This, even though the BJP is contesting the assembly elections with the JD(U).

The LJP’s actions have created speculation about a tacit alliance between the two parties to undermine Nitish. But BJP leaders have sought to clarify that the party has no secret deal with the LJP, describing the party as a cutter of the NDA’s voteshare.

“Chirag Paswan has chosen a separate path in Bihar, he is trying to mislead people by taking names of senior BJP leaders. We don’t have any B or C team. NDA will get a three-fourth majority. Chirag’s party will be left as a vote-cutter party,” said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar Friday. 

BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra addressed a press conference where he said the LJP is indulging “in the politics of lies and the BJP is only in an alliance with the JD(U), the HAM and the VIP”. The HAM is the Hindustani Awam Morcha of Jitan Ram Manjhi, while VIP stands for Vikassheel Insaan Party of Mukesh Sahni.

Patra termed the LJP a “vote katwa (vote-cutter)” party, but said the BJP-JD(U)-VIP alliance in Bihar will secure a majority.

BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav, who is in charge of Bihar, said “Chirag Paswan wants to create confusion on the use of the Prime Minister’s name”. 

“In the Bihar elections, the BJP-JD(U)-VIP and HAM in the NDA are in alliance. We do not have an alliance with the LJP, nor are they part of the NDA in the elections. Chirag should not remain in confusion, nor confuse, spread illusion,” he tweeted.

“The statements made by Chirag Paswan on #NDA and Nitishji are very unfortunate. In this alliance, he contested the Lok Sabha elections and became an MP. In February, he was busy showering praises on the Bihar government! What happened suddenly in 6 months? Now he is indulging in politics of lies for personal interest!” Yadav tweeted. 

According to sources in the BJP, these statements are a damage-control attempt by the party. Chirag’s public statements hinting at an understanding between the BJP and the LJP were creating confusion on the ground and prompted the party to take this decision, the sources said.

“While Chirag, in his statements, targets Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, at the same time, he has been praising PM Modi. So, naturally, it is causing some confusion,” added a senior BJP leader. 

According to a second senior leader, the perception in the media is that Chirag Paswan has the BJP’s backing, and the party wants to correct it “before it is too late”.


Also Read: Bollywood to Bihar — LJP’s Chirag Paswan has 1 month to emerge from his father’s shadow


BJP-JD(U) hold meeting to ‘clear air’

On Thursday evening, leaders of the BJP and the JD(U) held a coordination meeting in Sasaram, Bihar. While the BJP said it was a routine coordination meeting to review the work done so far and what all needs to be done, the first unnamed BJP leader said it was also aimed at clearing the confusion among the cadres. 

“The meeting was attended by BJP president J.P. Nadda, Bhupender Yadav, BJP’s Bihar president Sanjay Jaiswal, and senior JD(U) leader R.C.P. Singh. The leaders discussed and reviewed the ground situation and, at the same time, gave instructions that the cadre of both the parties should work in tandem and ensure the win of the alliance,” the senior BJP leader added. 

Since the beginning of the LJP’s onslaught against Nitish, the BJP has been backing the chief minister to avoid any possibilities of another Mahagathbandhan, like the one formed in 2015, when the JD(U) briefly allied with the RJD and the Congress. 

This, even though the party believes it is on a stronger footing in Bihar than its ally, said sources. 

“It is a close contest in several assembly segments, so one can’t take any chance. What if Nitish Kumar ends up getting many more seats and then decides to cross over to the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) to form the government? We have to factor in all eventualities and it is important that the public has clarity about the JD(U) and BJP alliance,” said a third BJP leader.  

Earlier this month, the LJP fielded a number of rebel BJP candidates against the JD(U), and this was seen by some in the JD(U) as an attempt by the BJP to undercut Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. 

However, soon afterwards, the BJP suspended the rebel BJP leaders. “Chirag Paswan has been giving interviews stressing the fact that he has PM Modi’s blessings and that there is a pact between the BJP and the LJP. This is completely incorrect, which is why it was felt that the party should expose him officially,” said a fourth leader. 

Of the 243 seats in the Bihar assembly, the JD(U) had won 71 (out of 101 seats contested) in the 2015 assembly polls, the BJP 53 (of 157 contested), and the LJP two seats (of 42 contested).


Also Read: Not just Tejashwi Yadav & Chirag Paswan, Bihar polls make-or-break for other dynasts too


 

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