Union Minister and Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) founder Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday welcomed BJP president Amit Shah’s recent comments confirming that the NDA would contest the Bihar Assembly polls under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U).
“We welcome Amit Shah’s statement; it has put an end to all doubts and speculation,” Mr. Paswan said. “We at LJP have been saying that there is no need to even question on who will lead NDA in 2020 Bihar Assembly polls,” the LJP leader added.
The LJP had always worked as a cementing force, he asserted and said that the party would work to keep the alliance intact. “The BJP never directly questioned Nitishji’s leadership; the media gave unwarranted importance to statements of a few BJP leaders,” he added.
Speculation on the fate of the alliance was triggered by remarks made by BJP legislator Sanjay Paswan, who had said that Mr. Kumar “should make way for a BJP CM”.
Asserting that there were no differences between the cadres of the BJP and the JD(U), the LJP leader said that the two parties had worked in tandem for the bypolls in five Assembly constituencies and the Lok Sabha constituency of Samastipur.
Mr. Paswan added that it was in everyone’s interest that the alliance remained intact. When it comes to seat distribution, however, the NDA, with just three partners, is likely to face some tough negotiations. The LJP wants to contest about the same number of seats as in 2015, when it had contested 42 and won two.
The BJP had fought in 157 seats in the last election, out of which it won 53. Even though it has agreed to Mr. Kumar’s leadership, it has made it clear that it will contest an equal number of seats as the JD(U) or more.
The last time the BJP and the JD(U) had fought an Assembly poll as alliance partners was in 2010, when the JD(U) had contested 141 seats and the BJP had fought on 102 seats.
On November 28, Mr. Paswan is set to step down as president of the LJP and pass the baton to his son Chirag Paswan. The senior Paswan asserted that unlike many recent generational transitions, his party’s electoral fortunes wouldn’t be affected by the change. “Mulayam Singh [Samajwadi Party leader] was forced to step down by his son. That is not the case here, I have been wanting Chirag to take over,” Mr. Paswan added.