A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party announced a seat-sharing pact with allies for the Bihar assembly elections, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party – NDA's biggest ally in the state – said on Tuesday it was "shocked" and "taken aback" by the decision.
The LJP, which has been offered 40 seats, said the final announcement was different from what was offered to it initially.
"There are media reports about the LJP being unhappy. There is no smoke without fire. But, we are not upset. We were shocked. We have expressed our concerns to BJP chief Amit Shah and he has assured us that he will 'honour' them. We have no reasons to doubt him," LJP MP Chirag Paswan told reporters.
He added, "The BJP did not inform us about the final number of seats that the LJP was getting. We did not ask for it either."
The LJP is "disappointed" with the formula that was applied in the case of Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi for distribution of seats among these two parties were not applied to the LJP.
While the RLSP has got 23 seats, HAM managed to corner 20 seats in the alliance. The BJP had initially offered 18 seats to RLSP and 13 to HAM.
The LJP is also upset with the fact that the BJP did not stick to the formula – for every ally – that had been agreed upon a couple of days ago and the RLSP and HAM managed to extract an extra pound of flesh at its cost.
"We are not upset at a certain number of seats being given to Kushwaha or Manjhi. We never cared about the number of seats. But, we were disappointed in the manner in which the announcement was made," said Chirag.
Sources claim the LJP has reservations about HAM leaders – some of whom were in Paswan's party – laying claim to seats that fall under Chirag's Jamui parliamentary constituency, a proposition that it has refused to accept.
"We have given a list of such leaders (of HAM) to the BJP leadership against whom we have certain reservations. We will have a meeting to discuss these issues and our reservation stands at this point of time," said Chirag.
The 70-year-old Manjhi had demanded seats equal to the LJP's share, citing his supposed higher stature among the Mahadalits, an extremely backward group of castes that comprises 10% of the state’s population and may swing a close election.
The arrangement ensures Manjhi – who demanded a share equal to that of Paswan – gets "some" extra seats. But if they win, these legislators will be guided by instructions from the BJP leadership in the assembly and not the former chief minister.
After the seat sharing announcement on Monday, Shah is learnt to have spoken to the older Paswan and sought to address his concerns. Shah also had a late night meeting with Chirag on Monday, wherein the BJP chief made a certain offer to placate the sulking LJP leaders.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan also drove to Paswan's residence on Tuesday morning to avoid a crisis like situation.