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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

LJP leaders give mixed signals on alliance with BJP

PTI  New Delhi, February 24, 2014
First Published: 02:21 IST(24/2/2014) | Last Updated: 02:26 IST(24/2/2014)
A senior leader from Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) on Sunday said the LJP had decided to go with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
        
After a meeting of LJP leaders at Paswan's residence here, former MP and party leader Surajbhan Singh told reporters, "Alliance between LJP and BJP has been finalised."  
 
However, LJP secretary general Abdul Khalik told PTI that no final decision had been taken, and only the parliamentary board of LJP can decide it.
        
When asked how can the LJP chief, who was the first to quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2002 to protest against the Gujarat riots, could align with the BJP whose prime ministerial candidate is Narendra Modi, Singh said, "When the court has given a clean chit to Modi, who are we to say anything?"
 
He said that a formal announcement about the alliance would be made "very soon" in which it would be made clear which party will contest how many seats in Bihar.
 
He also said that Paswan would soon meet BJP chief Rajnath Singh over the issue.
        
However, other senior party leaders chose to remain ambivalent on the issue, saying no such decision has been taken as yet and the party is still to decide on the alliance issue.
 
"With regard to the alliance issue, no final decision has been taken only the parliamentary board of LJP can decide it. The board will meet in a couple of days," Khalik told PTI.
        
He, however, parried a question as to whether the LJP has had any talks for alliance with the BJP.
        
"Our talks with Congress and RJD are going on," was his brief reply to the question.
        
Another party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that with the delay in finalising an alliance between the Congress, RJD and the LJP, there is pressure from the party workers to chalk out a different path and take a decision which suits the party.
        
Sources said that some BJP leaders from Bihar had recently met Paswan.
        
There are 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Earlier, Paswan had given indication of aligning with the JD(U) by praising Nitish Kumar.
        
Paswan's party had been an alliance partner of the NDA government, but the LJP chief was the first to quit the BJP-led alliance over the 2002 post-Godhra riots that took place in Gujarat in chief minister Modi's rule.
        
After the LJP parted ways with the NDA, six other parties had also quit the alliance in quick succession and the NDA had virtually disintegrated, paving the way for Congress-led UPA to come to power in 2004.
 
Paswan had joined the UPA alliance in 2004 and became a cabinet minister. His party had then got only four seats. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was railway minister in UPA-I. After a bitter rivalry for some time in UPA I, the two had inched closer by the end of 2008.
        
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, while the RJD and the LJP fought together, but the Congress walked out of the alliance. The LJP had failed to open its account and Paswan himself lost from home turf Hajipur. The RJD won only four seats and the Congress two.
 
In 2004, when the Congress, RJD and the LJP had contested together in Bihar they had won 29 of the 40 seats — with RJD winning 22, LJP four and the Congress three.
        
This time, both Paswan and Prasad showed inclination to ally with Congress. There were, however some hitches on the number of seats each party would contest.
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