The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday night expelled nine of its party leaders who have filed their nominations for the upcoming Assembly elections on a Lok Janshakti Party ticket, NDTV reported. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi also clarified that the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar was fractured as the LJP was no longer a part of the alliance.

BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal expelled the nine leaders for six years for their “anti-party activities”, according to The Hindu. The leaders are Rajendra Singh , Usha Vidyarthi, Rameshwar Chaurasia, Mrinal Shekhar, Ravindra Yadav, Shweta Singh, Indu Kashyap, Anil Kumar and Ajay Pratap.

“You all are contesting the elections against NDA candidates and it tarnishes not only NDA’s impression but of [the] party as well and this is against party’s discipline…so, for anti-party activities you all are expelled from the party for six years,” Jaiswal said in a letter to the expelled leaders.

In a significant political development, Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party on October 4 had walked out of the National Grand Alliance over “ideological differences” with Janata Dal (United), but said it would remain a “strong partner” of the BJP and fight against Nitish Kumar. Chirag Paswan’s LJP is a member of the NDA at the Centre and his father Ram Vilas Paswan was a Union Minister till his death on October 8.

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Even though the BJP rushed to assert its confidence in the leadership of Nitish Kumar, several saffron party leaders who failed to get a ticket have joined the LJP in recent days.

At least 15 failed BJP ticket-seekers have approached the LJP for tickets and names of all the nine expelled BJP leaders also figured in Chirag Paswan’s party’s candidate list, which has fielded them against JD(U) contenders. This has left the the saffron party embarrassed. The JD(U) is an alliance partner of the BJP and they are contesting the polls jointly.

Speaking in Patna on Monday, Sushil Kumar Modi said only the BJP, the JD(U), and its newfound ally, Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular), or HAM-S, of Jitan Ram Ram Manjhi, along with Mukesh Sahni’s Vikasheel Insaan Party were part of the NDA, and could contest the election under that banner.

“If we get a majority, then only Nitish Kumar will be Chief Minister,” Modi added. “There should be no confusion on that front.”

Besides this, BJP leaders in Bihar have categorically announced that those who would contest the poll against the NDA candidates would not be part of it and they could not use Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pictures in poll campaign. “We would also request the Election Commission to take action against those using PM Modi’s pictures except NDA candidates,” Sanjay Jaiswal said.

Under the NDA coalition, the JD(U) is contesting 122 and the BJP will fight on121 seats. The JD(U) has accommodated Manjhi led-Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) by givingthe party seven seats and the BJP has spared 11 seats to another alliance partner Mukesh Sahni-led Vikasheel Insaan Party.

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.