The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday dismissed speculation about any animosity with its ally, the Lok Janshakti Party, in Bihar and said all three National Democratic Alliance partners will contest the upcoming state Assembly elections together, PTI reported. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is the third party in the state that is part of the NDA.

“A lot of development work has happened in Bihar and the NDA will fight the polls on the basis of this under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,” said BJP General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav. He was speaking to reporters after a meeting of party leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda.

“The BJP, JD(U) and the LJP will fight the polls strongly along with Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has joined hands with JD(U), and will form government again with a three/fourth majority,” he said. Yadav added that the decision on the seat-sharing arrangement would be made in a few days.

The meeting was also attended by Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal and state Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s assurances came a day after Chirag Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party served an ultimatum to the saffron party that it would contest on 143 seats, if it does not get an “honourable deal” from its allies. In 2015, the LJP had contested 42 seats and won two of them. The JD(U) was then part of the Opposition alliance, which had defeated the NDA.

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The BJP’s relationship with the LJP has been complicated because of a feud between Nitish Kumar and Chirag Paswan, forcing the party into a balancing act. Paswan, the son of Union Minister and party founder Ram Vilas Paswan, has accused Kumar of poor governance – especially since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the resulting lockdown, and most recently the floods that have devastated large parts of the state.

Chirag Paswan has openly admitted to a lack of communication between him and Kumar and the two leaders have reportedly not spoken to each other for over a year. Besides this, Kumar’s move to bring Manjhi to the NDA fold has fueled more anger in the Paswan camp, which has a similar vote-bank, according to NDTV.

Fadnavis appointed BJP in-charge for polls

Meanwhile, the BJP appointed former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as its in-charge for the Assembly elections, the party said in a statement. Fadnavis and Yadav are heading to Bihar, where they are expected to discuss poll strategy with party leaders and also with the allies.

Elections in Bihar will be held in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The counting of votes will take place on November 10. This is the first election to be held in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.The Bihar Assembly has 243 seats, of which 38 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and two for Scheduled Tribes.