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LS polls: LJP says option of alliance with BJP open

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 26, 2014
First Published: 13:55 IST(26/2/2014) | Last Updated: 21:39 IST(26/2/2014)

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday said the party has not yet decided on a poll alliance, as "the Congress was not serious and the deadlock with RJD continues".

Paswan told reporters that the Congress lacked seriousness in deciding on alliances and therefore the party's parliamentary board wanted to look for alternatives and some of the members had suggested an alliance with the BJP.

Some of the members had reservations about the alliance for long with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal, he said.

Read: As Paswan warms up to Modi, CBI opens scam file

"We need to build strong alliances as the general elections are nearing," Paswan said. Asked whether he has diluted his stand on secularism by showing openness to aligning with the BJP, he said, "My party has always suffered for taking a stand on this issue. We will not compromise on secularism. When it came to taking a stand on this issue, I quit the NDA.

TV reports had suggested that LJP might quit the UPA to join the NDA after a gap of nearly 12 years, as he has been promised eight Lok Sabha seats to contest in Bihar by the BJP.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the NDA had the support of all castes, barring the Yadavs, Muslims and Paswans, and this was reflected in the results. The NDA bagged 32 of the 40 seats in Bihar, with the JD-U getting 20 and BJP 12.

After the JD(U) quit the NDA, it was not known whether the party would join hands with the Congress or what the fate of the Lalu Prasad-led RJD would be. Now, with the BJP joining hands with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha, a Koeri leader, and the LJP likely to join the NDA, caste equations are set to churn again.

The BJP will now have support of the upper castes, Vaishyas, Paswans and part of the Koeris, especially after the tie-up with Kushwaha. Along with this, the BJP is trying to woo the extremely backward classes (EBCs) that support the JD(U) by projecting its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's EBC identification.

With Dalit leader Paswan on its side, the BJP is planning to target the mahadalit vote bank of the JD(U). The bulk of this community supports Kumar because he had brought 21 of 22 scheduled castes in Bihar into the mahadalit category and offered sops, leaving out only the Dusadhs — the caste Paswan belongs to.

"The JD(U) has no exclusive rights on the votes of EBCs because Narendra Modi also belongs to the Ghanchi  caste of the EBCs in Gujarat. Similarly, the mahadalits are sore over non-implementation of the schemes announced for them," former minister Giriraj Singh said.

After the split in the NDA, the ruling JD(U) had largely banked on a tie-up with the Congress, which appeared receptive to Kumar's demand for special category status to Bihar. However, the Congress finally left the matter in limbo and seems also set to join hands with the RJD.

Read: Bihar changing: why parties can't bet on caste now

Left with no option, the JD(U) is likely to forge a 'secular alliance' with the CPI and CPM in the hope of getting maximum support of the Muslims while its core vote bank of the Kurmis, EBCs, mahadalits and a segment of Koeris, remains intact.

The LJP's move to join the NDA is also a setback for the Congress and RJD because if the LJP had joined them, the trio would have made a formidable alliance.
The combined strength of these parties was seen in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls in which the Congress, RJD, LJP and NCP won 29 seats. Of these the RJD won 22 seats, the LJP four and the Congress three.

But when they decided to go it alone in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the result was disastrous as they ended up weakening each other. The RJD won only four seats, the LJP drew a blank and the Congress won two.

On the contrary, the NDA won 32 seats and though its spectacular performance was attributed to Kumar's development agenda and social engineering, a big factor was the division of secular votes.

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