SENDING shockwaves through the political spectrum, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has struck a deal with LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar. The LJP will get seven seats, including the coveted Hajipur, Samastipur and Jamui to contest. The formal announcement is likely anytime. Top LJP sources said Paswan spoke to BJP PM Candidate Narendra Modi and finalised the alliance. It is learnt that BJP agreed to give Hajipur, Samastipur, Jamui, Vaishali, Begisarai, Munger and Khagaria.
Paswan has reportedly revived his alliance with the BJP for the national election, 12 years after he snapped ties with the party over the 2002 riots in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.
Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MPs met in Delhi to finalise their decision. Sources say he is likely to meet Narendra Modi tomorrow.
Paswan quit Atal Behari Vajpayee’s BJP-led regime in April 2002, criticizing Modi for the handling of the communal violence that tore through Gujarat in the aftermath of the killing of Hindu train riders in Godhra.
His return to the BJP-led alliance signals that political expediency can overrule the debate over the acceptability of its prime ministerial candidate, who is seen as a polarising figure in India. Modi’s elevation had been the cause of the BJP’s bitter break-up with its 17-year ally Janata Dal-United last summer.
“It is strange, but true,” said Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, “You have to ask Ram Vilas Paswan on this change of mind on communal forces.’
Reports of a meeting between Paswan’s film actor-turned-politician son, Chirag and BJP president Rajnath Singh last week had fuelled speculation about a possible realignment in Bihar.
Just last month, Paswan had announced that his party, along with the RJD and the Congress, will contest the next Lok Sabha elections jointly in Bihar. But Lalu Prasad’s RJD has since battled a split in the ranks and is seen as a losing bet.
The seat-sharing deal between the LJP and the BJP is still not clear. Reports suggested that Paswan had asked for 12 of Bihar’s 40 seats, some of them for his relatives, but was offered only seven. He commands the fierce loyalty of at least four per cent of Bihar’s electorate.
Reports of Paswan’s alliance with the BJP come amid reports that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may question Paswan in connection with a recruitment scam at the Bokaro Steel Plant when he was Steel Minister five years ago.
“The CBI should not be misused. If there is a genuine mistake, then they must investigate but if there is such an evident direct relation between the CBI and politics, then one obviously doubts the real motive of the CBI,” said BJP leader Prakash Javadekar. (Agency).