Paswan back in NDA fold

Paswan back in NDA fold

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Bhar­atiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday formally announced that they will jointly fight the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, with the saffron party allowing Ramvilas Paswan and his candidates to contest in seven parliamentary constituencies in the electorally crucial state.

After weeks of behind-the-scene negotiations, BJP leaders from Bihar Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shahnawaz Hussain met Paswan at his house on Thursd­ay to finalise the constituencies in which LJP wants to contest.

Late in the night, Paswan went to BJP president Rajnath Singh’s residence to announce that the LJP was back in the fold of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with which it snapped ties post 2002 Gujarat riots. “The BJP and the LJP have formed alliance for LS polls,” Singh told reporters. He said his party has agreed to give LJP seven of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

Thanking Rajnath Singh, Paswan said he was happy that the LJP has tied up with the BJP. “Now, all the Dalits are with the NDA as I’m the head of the National Dalit Front. Dalit leaders, including Udit Raj and Ramdas Athawale, are also with the BJP,” he said.

Interestingly, Paswan said Narendra Modi was a victim of untouchability as the Gujarat chief minister had said earlier. 

According to BJP sources, the seven constituencies offered to LJP are Hajipur (from where Ramvilas is expected to contest), Jamui (Paswan’s son Chirag’s likely constituency), Samastipur, Munger, Khagaria, Jhanjharpur and either Aurangabad or Vaishali.

The LJP’s bond with the BJP became clearer after it got the backing of Modi, who reportedly discussed the alliance in a meeting with Rajnath Singh on Thursday. Singh is also believed to have apprised Advani of the electoral pact with the LJP.

The electoral pact came a day after the LJP snapped ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, miffed at being ignored by the two.

The BJP is courting Dalit leaders like Paswan to fill the void in Bihar created after snapping of ties with the JD-U. A senior Bihar leader explained that Paswan community has a sizeable presence of about 4 per cent votes across the state.

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