New Delhi | LJP, which has been sulking over the seat sharing deal in the NDA in Bihar, today came out in the open with discontent over the formula adopted yesterday and what was promised to them earlier. There is no smoke without fire, Chirag Paswan, LJP Parliamentary Board chairman and son of party president Ram Vilas Paswan, told reporters after a midnight meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah.
On record, Chirag, however, made it clear that LJP will continue in the NDA, which will remain intact. Shah had yesterday announced a seat sharing formula for Bihar assembly elections under which the alliance spearhead will contest 160 of the state’s 243 seats, LJP 40, RLSP 23 and HAM 20. 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.
We were not angry but definitely there were concerns in the party. We were shocked. There is no smoke without fire, Chirag said. Though he did not give details of what transpired at his meeting with Shah, he said,We have apprised the BJP chief of our concerns. We are happy that our concerns have been honoured and we are moving towards a solution. He refused to clarify if LJP would get some additional seats as part of a ‘solution’ to its concerns.
Chirag said Shah reminded him about compulsions in a coalition and assured him he would try to accomodate the concerns voiced by LJP as much as possible. Describing HAM and RLSP as family, he said, There is no reason–number of seats or anything else–due to which LJP would part ways with the BJP. There is no question of any dispute with Manjhi ji as his party cannot be given seats under any formula as he had neither contested Lok Sabha nor state Assemly polls in past. We are happy with whatever seats he has got.
Our concern was that LJP should also have got seats on the basis of the formula under which RLSP got 23 seats, he said. Notwithstanding Shah’s claim at the time of announcing the seat sharing arrangement that there was no tug of war and no tension among NDA partners over the number of seats each would contest, discontent has been brewing in LJP over allotment of 40 seats to it.
LJP sources said there is 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 which was disproportionate to their political strength in the state.
Asked whether LJP was not informed about apportionment of the seats ahead of the announcement yesterday, he said,No we were not informed. But we had not even asked for it. A top LJP leader said before HAM joined the NDA the proposal from BJP was that it would contest 75 per cent of the state’s 243 assembly seats and the rest would go to LJP and RLSP.
Another proposal mooted by BJP was that LJP and RLSP would get six assembly seats for every Lok Sabha seat contested by them in 2014. Under the arrangement, LJP, which has contested seven LS seats, would have got 42 and Kushwaha’s RLSP 18. When the decision to include HAM into the NDA fold was taken, it was decided that the new entrant will get 12 seats to contest in the assembly polls. Accordingly, it was decided that BJP will spare nine seats from its quota for Manjhi’s party, LJP two and RLSP one.
Under that arrangement, LJP would have been allotted 40 seats, RLSP 17 and HAM 12, he said. LJP, Chirag Paswan said, had made it clear in June itself that it will oppose five present and former MLAs of HAM, who had at some point were associated with his party and later deserted it.
They include former state LJP chief and minister Narendra Singh’s two MLA sons Ajay Pratap (Jamui) and Sumit Kumar Singh (Chakai), both part of Chirag Paswan’s Jamui Lok Sabha seat. Singh had split LJP in 2005 and walked away with around a dozen MLAs.
The LJP Parliamentary Board chairman said his party continues to have reservations over these people. Yes, we have our objections to some names. Yes, the reservations remain. We have written to the BJP chief regarding it. As long as the issue is not resolved after discussions, the reservations remain, he said.
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