Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday signalled readiness to tie up with the NDA ahead of the 2014 general elections, giving the BJP a possible prominent Dalit leader as a poll ally.
The party's desire to join the NDA comes after his demand of 10 seats in Bihar's RJD-Congress-LJP alliance evoked a lukewarm response from RJD chief Lalu Prasad. LJP leaders also believe a tie up with BJP could reap richer electoral harvest.
"We have decided to tie up with BJP... everything has been finalised," said LJP leader Surajbhan. Paswan's son Chirag Paswan, however, said nothing was final.
After a poor show in the 2009 polls and in the 2010 assembly elections, this could be a do-or-die battle for Paswan. "He faces a difficult election and wants to be on the right side," said a BJP leader.
Meanwhile, Dalit leader and former IRS officer Udit Raj is all set to join the BJP in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. BJP thinks there is a scope of making inroads into Mayawati's vote -bank with a know n Dalit face, said a party leader.
Congress leaders and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who was trying for over a month for a strong secular formation of Congress-RJD-LJP, are worried.
According to LJP leaders, Paswan will contest the Lok Sabha polls from his traditional Hajipur seat and his son Chirag Paswan will contest from Jamui seat after an alliance with BJP.
Paswan has repeatedly claimed that he had walked out of NDA after the 2002 riots in Gujarat and resigned from cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the same issue.
Paswan till last week looked likely to ally with the Congress and Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar for a strong secular formation.
But LJP was bargaining for 9 to 10 of 40 Lok Sabha seats of Bihar to contest polls and Congress and RJD were not ready to give more than five seats to LJP.
It is believed that when LJP's demand for more seats was rejected by the Congress and RJD, Paswan approached the BJP for an alliance.
In last Lok Sabha polls in 2009, LJP failed to win a single seat and even Paswan was defeated from Hajipur. The poor show in 2010 state assembly polls forced Paswan to get closed to Congress and RJD. It was Lalu Prasad who helped Paswan win a Rajya Sabha seat from Bihar.
Incidentally, a senior BJP leader and former minister has strongly opposed any electoral alliance with Paswan's party.
Ashwani Kumar Choubey said Paswan is an opportunist and is keen to join BJP in view of wave sweeping across the country in favour of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
"It would be a suicidal decision for the party to have an alliance with LJP," said Choubey, a vocal supporter of Modi.
He said LJP is a party that symbolises family rule and believes in political opportunism.
Choubey also said that electoral alliance with LJP should not be finalised at the cost of party workers and leaders.
"LJP is demanding 11 Lok Sabha seats...," he said.
(With inputs from IANS)