With Bihar Assembly elections starting in less than a fortnight, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Thursday insisted that the Bharatiya Janata Party has no “secret deal” with the Lok Janshakti Party and that the Chirag Paswan-led outfit is not a part of the National Democratic Alliance in the state.

In an interview to NDTV, he referred to Lok Janashakti Party as “Vote Katuwa”, a term often used in election parlance for parties that do not necessarily win seats but manage to split voters. “In each and every public meeting, I am asking people not to waste their votes by polling for the LJP candidates,” the BJP leader said.

On October 4, citing “ideological differences”, the Lok Janshakti Party had decided not to contest the elections with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United). However, the party decided to stay as an ally of the BJP at the national level and even support the saffron party’s MLAs during the state elections.

Since then, speculations have been rife on the political equations in the poll-bound state.

In a separate interview to The Print, Sushil Modi spoke on similar lines, denying that the saffron party and LJP have reached a tacit understanding. “What does BJP gain if JD(U) gets lesser seats?” he asked. “We have made it clear that irrespective of the number of seats JD(U) and BJP wins, Nitish Kumar will be the chief minister.”

Asked about Lok Janashakti Party’s prospects in the upcoming elections, the deputy chief minister said it will not have much impact. “Their status will be like that of Independent candidates – just under a banner. However, there may be a few seats where they may affect the prospects of either the NDA or Grand Alliance candidates,” he told The Print. He predicted “2-3 seats” for the party when speaking to NDTV.

Addressing reporters on Thursday, Sushil Modi said that any confusion over the alliance will be clarified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election rally in the state. “In the past too, Shiv Sena has been our ally in Maharashtra but has fought against us in Gujarat,” he said. “Even in the recent Jharkhand elections, Lok Janashakti Party fought against us.”

Assembly Elections in Bihar will be held in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The results will be out on November 10.