NEW DELHI: A day after BJP chief Amit Shah announced the seat-sharing formula of NDA allies for the Bihar Assembly elections, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s party LJP went into a sulk, stating that its cadre were ‘shocked’ by the better deal given to other alliance constituents.
However, following the intervention of senior BJP leaders, the LJP clarified that it was staying on in the alliance. It said there was a feeling in the party that Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and RLSP of Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha had got a “better deal” disproportionate to their political clout in the state.
According to Monday’s announcement, the BJP would contest 160 of the state’s 243 seats, LJP 40, RLSP 23 and HAM 20. LJP Parliamentary Board Chairman and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan told a press conference, “There was no anger but discontent as there was a difference between the seat-sharing formula we were told about earlier and what was announced yesterday. So we were taken aback.” Paswan Junior, who had a midnight meeting with Shah on Monday, said the BJP chief told him there were certain “coalition compulsions” but that he would try to accommodate the LJP’s concerns “as much as possible”.
Soon after Chirag’s presser, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan called on the LJP chief, and downplayed reports of dissensions. “Paswanji is a leader of stature,” he said, recalling that leaders of all NDA allies had on Monday said they would work together to ensure the victory of the ruling alliance in the Bihar polls.
“There was no such demand (about more seats)....Nobody said any such thing (when Shah announced the seat-sharing pact),” Pradhan said. Sources said it could be an attempt by the LJP to put pressure on the BJP to get winning seats for its candidates, as the selection process began.
Calling RLSP and HAM “family”, Chirag claimed the LJP did not have anything against those parties getting more seats. “There is no question of any dispute with Manjhi ji, as his party cannot be given seats under any formula as he has neither contested Lok Sabha nor Assembly polls in the past,” he said, but went on to add that their concern was that “LJP should also have got seats on the basis of the formula under which RLSP got 23 seats.” A top LJP leader said before the HAM joined the NDA, the BJP was to contest 75 per cent seats.