LJP to be part of NDA in Bihar polls: BJP

NEW DELHI: BJP is confident that LJP, which has been speaking against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of late, will fall in line and stay with the NDA in the forthcoming Assembly elections due in October. However, the seat-sharing formula of 50:50 between the saffron party and JD(U) in the Lok Sabha elections is not likely to be followed in the Assembly polls.“The NDA comprising BJP, JD(U) and LJP in Bihar will continue in the Assembly elections and we are clear that Nitish Kumar will be the chief ministerial face in the polls. LJP is part of the alliance and we are sure we will fight together,” a senior BJP leader said when asked about some disagreements expressed by LJP in the last few days.BJP is firm on Kumar as the face and has “full respect” for his leadership in the state, the party leader said.LJP Chief Chirag Paswan has said that there should be a rethink on Kumar as the CM face. A section in the BJP feels this could be a ploy to get more seats. LJP banks on the Pasi votes, comprising around 5 per cent of the electorate in Bihar, which has stayed loyal to it in the last few decades.Congress is reportedly sending overtures to LJP but BJP feels the latter will stay with the NDA. LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan is a cabinet minister at the Centre and was given a Rajya Sabha seat by BJP as part of the deal during Lok Sabha polls. LJP also contested on six Lok Sabha seats in 2019 as part of NDA.However, BJP leaders maintain that the seat-sharing formula has not yet been discussed with the two NDA partners.“The Lok Sabha election formula of JD(U) and BJP contesting equal number of seats in Bihar need not be followed. That was specific to the general election. Till now we have not had a discussion on seat sharing though a broad framework is there,” the senior leader said.In 2015 Assembly elections, JD(U) had fought along with RJD against the BJP-led NDA.Though the number of COVID-19 cases are rising in Bihar, BJP is battle ready for the Assembly elections. “We will see what the situation is like in October,” the BJP leader said. The Opposition has demanded that the elections be postponed in the view of the pandemic. The remit to decide the dates lies with the Election Commission.BJP General Secretary in-charge of Bihar, Bhupendra Yadav has been camping in the state for the last few days and holding meetings with mandal level workers of the party.Though pushed on the backfoot on the issue of reverse migration of Biharis working in other states due to the pandemic, the JD(U)-BJP government is confident of winning the perception battle and getting the support of such families.“We have been in touch with almost all the migrants all along. Medical help, rations and accommodation was provided to them. Some of the migrants are now going back to their place of work. Our door to door campaign through distribution of 10 Crore letters (across the country) to educate people on achievements of the Narendra Modi government in the last one year has helped in maintaining the human contact,” the senior BJP leader said.