At two-hour ‘cordial’ meet, Amit Shah reaches out to Ram Vilas Paswan, son
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At two-hour ‘cordial’ meet, Amit Shah reaches out to Ram Vilas Paswan, son

A day after NDA constituent Lok Janashakti Party served an ultimatum to the BJP to finalise seat sharing agreement in Bihar by December 31, top leaders of the two parties held a meeting to iron out differences that triggered speculation about the fate of NDA in the heartland state.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2018 19:51 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Amit Shah,Arun Jaitley,Ram Vilas Paswan
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan leaves after meeting BJP chief Amit Shah on Thursday. (PTI)

A day after National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituent Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) served an ultimatum to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to finalise seat sharing agreement in Bihar by December 31, top leaders of the two parties held a meeting on Thursday to iron out differences that triggered speculation about the fate of NDA in the heartland state.

BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, who is also the party’s in-charge for Bihar, visited Ram Vilas Paswan at his official residence around 4 pm and held talks with the LJP chief and his parliamentarian son, Chirag Paswan, for over 30 minutes.

The three leaders then left for BJP’s chief Amit Shah’s residence for second round talks, which continued for more than two hours. The meeting was attended by finance minister Arun Jaitley too. “Both sides have agreed to stay together and work closely with each other for victory in 2019,” a leader privy to the meet said.

Earlier in the day, Paswan told reporters at Parliament complex that there was no unhappiness and his son, who is LJP’s parliamentary board chairman, will speak on seat sharing.

A couple of tweets by Chirag on Monday, claiming that seat sharing talks have not progressed beyond a point, and a statement by him on Tuesday saying there has been positive changes in Rahul Gandhi and the opposition successfully raised some issues in polls, triggered speculations.

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Shah announced last month that BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janta Dal (United), which returned to NDA last year, will contest equal number of seats. He did not disclose the number, but leaders in the two parties claim BJP and JD(U) will contest 17 seats each. This formula leaves the LJP with six seats, which is one less than its 2014 share.

After Upendra Kushwaha’s exit from the NDA, LJP is expecting that it will at least get seven seats to contest and an RS berth for senior Paswan, a nine-term member of Lok Sabha who wishes to shift to the upper house of Parliament owing to health issues.

Sources said LJP has also sought seats in UP, Jharkhand and Punjab, states which has significant population of Scheduled Castes. But BJP has remained non-committal to this. An LJP leader said Chirag has written to Jaitley and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, seeking clarification on demonetisation and farm distress.

According to leaders aware of the developments, Jaitley will again discuss seat-sharing issues with Nitish Kumar, who is reaching Delhi on Friday, and Paswan. The LJP is ready to leave its claim on one LS seat if Paswan is given an RS berth from Assam. An announcement is expected before December 31.

First Published: Dec 21, 2018 00:12 IST