Running with Cong, Paswan wants to hunt with BJP
Paswan, who had earlier toyed with the idea of joining chief minister Nitish Kumar before being ‘persuaded’ by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, sources said, has opened negotiations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The move is curious as Paswan, who was part of NDA government at the Centre, for past decade had maintained distance from BJP calling it ‘communal’.
On the other hand, BJP, which is without a partner in Bihar ever since Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) walked out of NDA, has planned to leverage the JD(U) seats to build a formidable front in the state, which sends 40 members to Lok Sabha. In 2009 polls, between BJP and JD(U), the NDA won 32 seats of which 20 were won by the latter.
Despite a Modi wave, the opinion polls suggest that BJP on its own may not get more than 20-22 seats. ‘The BJP plans to use the 20 seats belonging to JD(U) to rope in allies in Bihar,’ said a senior party leader pointing out that Paswan’s LJP could be given Hajipur, Samastipur and Jamui, currently held by JD(U).
While Paswan himself wants to contest Hajipur, his brother Ramchandra Paswan wants to contest from Samastipur and son Chirag Paswan from Jamui.
All three are reserved category seats.The BJP may also handover Vaishali, currently held by RJD leader and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, and Nawada seats to LJP. Though Nawada is currently held by BJP, its MP Bhola Prasad Singh is keen to return to his home seat of Begusarai, presently held by JD(U).
The BJP has also opened negotiations with Nitish Kumar’s bête noire, Koeri community leader Upendra Kushwaha, who may be given Ujiarpur seat, also currently held by JD(U). His outfit Rashtriya Lok Samata Party may also be given Jahanabad seat to accommodate party’s another senior leader Arun Kumar. ‘If the proposed equations work out, NDA with new allies, could cross its 2009 tally of 32 out of 40 seats,’ added the leader.