PATNA: Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan today dismissed speculation about a rift within the NDA in Bihar over the issue of seat-sharing for next year's Lok Sabha polls and asserted that the BJP-led coalition was "intact" in the state.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an Iftar party organised at the state LJP headquarters here, the Union minister also urged the minorities to give up deciding their voting preferences on the basis of who could challenge the BJP most effectively and "support a government that provides you with peace and prosperity".
"There is no discord in the NDA, please keep that in mind. The coalition is intact. All the speculation have been created by the media and you may end up being disappointed," Paswan, who was flanked by top NDA leaders of Bihar including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, said.
Though Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) president Upendra Kushwaha was not present on the occasion, his party was represented by MLA Lallan Paswan.
The RLSP is an NDA constituent and Kushwaha is the Union minister of state, human resource development.
Paswan was responding to queries about the recent assertion by the JD(U) that it was the "elder brother" in the NDA in Bihar and his own party's insistence that it would not forego any of its six Lok Sabha seats in the state to any other party in next year's general election.
"Please do not try to drive a wedge between the NDA partners.
All of us are sitting here and we are preparing to face the 2019 Lok Sabha polls under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Paswan, who had joined the NDA shortly before the 2014 general election, said.
"On the auspicious occasion of Ramzan, I would like to greet my Muslim brethren. I would like to appeal to the minorities to understand that in the next election, they have to choose between corruption and probity, lawlessness and order.
They must spurn those forces, which have been treating them as hostages.
They must also put an end to deciding their voting preferences on the basis of who can fight the BJP better," the Union minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution said, without naming any party.
Interestingly, in February 2005, when the Bihar polls had thrown up a hung Assembly, Paswan, whose party had won quite a few seats, had said he would support a coalition which would help appoint a Muslim as the chief minister.
The LJP chief was then a cabinet minister in the UPA government.
The Assembly was dissolved by Governor Buta Singh in a controversial decision and the subsequent election in October, 2005 saw the NDA -- then comprising only Nitish Kumar's JD(U) and the BJP in Bihar -- coming to power in the state with a comfortable majority.
The NDA in Bihar is going to hold its meeting here tomorrow, the first since Kumar's return to the coalition, four years after snapping ties with the BJP.
Kumar, Paswan and Sushil Modi would be among those taking part in the meeting.