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Bihar

LJP may reject Nitish as CM face, set to drive hard bargain

July 06, 2020 07:09 AM

COURTESY TOI JULY 6

LJP may reject Nitish as CM face, set to drive hard bargain
Dipak.Dash@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is set to drive a tough political bargain in Bihar as the assembly election nears. While party sources refused to comment on the likelihood of a switch over from NDA to the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar, they said LJP was against projecting Nitish Kumar as chief minister.


Speculation about LJP seeking to secure better terms from JD(U) and BJP have been doing the rounds, especially after party chief Chirag Paswan sacked the Munger district head for a seemingly innocuous statement on NDA’s unity. Sniffing an opportunity, Congress responded by making public overtures to Chirag and said the party was open to projecting him as its CM candidate.

While LJP founder and patriarch Ramvilas Paswan is learnt to have dismissed the “offer” as irrelevant, sources said the party was looking to drive a tough bargain over seats.

Though smaller in size than JD(U), BJP and RJD, LJP revels in being seen as the “swing factor” in Bihar politics, courtesy its hold over the Paswan community.

The stream of greetings that poured in for Ramvilas Paswan on his birthday on Sunday served to boost the party’s self-perception as the factor which can tip the scales in crunch situations.

RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad and his son and leader of opposition in the state assembly Tejaswi Yadav called Ramvilas Paswan to greet him on his birthday. Top NDA leaders including PM Narendra Modi, several Union ministers, BJP members and even chief minister called Paswa. Significantly, until late evening, there was no message or call from Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

Sources in LJP said they won’t accept going to the polls under Kumar’s leadership and would, instead, support BJP if the saffron party staked claim for the top office. They also said the party was not averse to exploring fresh options if BJP sided with Kumar. “All options are open for the party. It won’t mind going with the Mahagathbandhan rather than accepting Kumar as the NDA leader in the state,” a source said.

There are indications that the tough bargaining posture has been inspired by a political consultant from the state who has told the Paswans that LJP should declare Chirag as its CM face. “There is Nitish fatigue in the state and Tejaswi Yadav's failure to emerge has opened up an opportunity for LJP to project Chirag as an alternative,” the consultant is learnt to have told the LJP leadership

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