The Lok Janshakti Party on Sunday announced that it will not contest the Bihar Assembly elections with the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) due to “ideological differences”, ANI reported.
The decision was taken during the party’s parliamentary board meeting in Delhi. A resolution, supporting an alliance with the BJP was also passed during the meeting and the Lok Janshakti Party resolved to support the saffron party’s MLAs.
“At the national level and in Lok Sabha elections, Lok Janshakti Party shares a strong alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party,” National General Secretary Abdul Khaliq said.
“There can be difference of ideologies on many seats with the JDU...Voters should be able to decide who they want as their candidate,” the official statement by the party said, according to NDTV. “The LJP wants to implement the Bihar vision document and the two parties have not been able to reach a consensus on it.”
The LPJ stressed that there is no “sourness” in its relations with the BJP. “We have a strong alliance with the BJP and even in Bihar, we want to continue this collaboration,” it said. “After the state elections, all the candidates who win will form a BJP-LJP government and follow the path of progress shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
A Patna-based LJP leader said that the party may get 6% to 12% votes that could tip the scales for the Janata Dal (United).
At the LJP meeting, party’s leaders Veena Devi, Chandan Singh, Surajbhan Singh, Raju Tiwari, Prince Raj and Kali Pandey were present. The meeting was postponed from Saturday as LPJ chief Chirag Paswan’s father and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan went through a heart surgery on Saturday night.
On September 30, the BJP had dismissed speculation about animosity with the LJP in Bihar and said all three National Democratic Alliance partners will contest the upcoming state Assembly elections together.
The assurances came a day after Chirag Paswan 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.
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. Chirag Paswan has accused Kumar of poor governance – especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the subsequent 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 Jitan Ram Manjhi to the NDA fold has fueled more anger in the Paswan camp, which has a similar vote-bank.
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.