A day after the Janata Dal (United) suspended its MLA Chedi Paswan for meeting the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, the legislator seemed set to join the saffron party.
Sources said the MLA from Mohania in Kaimur district of western Bihar was poised to take on Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee for the Sasaram seat.
“Yes, I think the BJP leadership is considering my name for the purpose”, Paswan told HT early Sunday, before boarding a flight from Gandhinagar to Patna.
When contacted, Bihar BJP president Mangal Pandey said, “All I can reveal at this juncture is that a warm welcome awaits Chediji, should he choose to join my party.”
Other high-ranking BJP leaders said Paswan was just the candidate the party would want to field against the speaker, the sitting MP from Sasaram.
Paswan had defeated her in the 1989 and 1991 Lok Sabha elections.
Paswan was suspended from the JD(U) on Saturday evening, hours after meeting Modi in Gandhinagar. The action came on the orders of JD(U) president Sharad Yadav.
“I met him as acting chairperson of the assurances committee of the Bihar assembly, which was on an official tour. Yet, they suspended me without even giving me a show-cause notice,” Paswan said.
The MLA claimed he had not said anything against his party during or after his meeting with Modi.
“But now that they have taken action against me, I am ready to move on."
Paswan's stand is likely to trigger a fresh round of acrimony between the JD(U) and the BJP. The JD(U) snapped 17-year-old ties with the BJP in June after the saffron party made Modi its election campaign committee chief.
Paswan is the fourth senior non-BJP leader from Bihar to meet Modi in the last one-and-a-half months.
Bihar Congress leaders Anirudh Prasad alias Sadhu Yadav, Dasai Chaudhary and the JD(U) MP from Muzaffarpur, Jai Narain Prasad Nishad, had also met the BJP strongman.
Dasai subsequently joined the BJP. Sources in the party said more leaders were expected to switch sides ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
It may not, however, be a one-way flow in favour of the BJP. Four party MLAs have already indicated they may join the JD(U).
BJP sources said Modi was paying special attention to Bihar ahead of his proposed 'Hunkar rally' in the state on October 27. Many in the BJP see chief minister Nitish Kumar as the architect of the JD(U) split from the BJP and the saffron party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
When the JD(U) was part of the NDA, the Bihar CM had blocked Modi’s entry into the state for campaigning.