Will fight Bihar polls as united force: Minister dismisses ‘rumours’ of rift in NDA
Reports have claimed that Paswan has been unhappy over Nitish Kumar, who heads the JD(U), expressing unwillingness to part with a respectable number of seats in assembly polls for the LJP, which had contested six out of 40 in Bihar in Lok Sabha.Updated: Jul 06, 2020 16:08 IST
Union minister Nityanand Rai on Sunday asserted that there was no rift within the NDA in Bihar and charged the RJD-Congress combine with spreading rumours regarding it.
The former Bihar BJP chief made the remarks, while addressing party workers in Purnea district through video conference, in an oblique reference to speculations which have followed notes of discord emanating from LJP chief Chirag Paswan in the recent past.
“The NDA, under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, will fight as a united force in the assembly polls. It will repeat the stupendous success of 2010 when the coalition had grabbed more than 80 per cent of assembly seats,” Rai said.
“The RJD-Congress will do better to stop spreading rumours about NDA and worry about fissures in their own camp,” said the Minister of State for Home.
Founded by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the LJP had severed its links with the Congress-led UPA and walked over to the NDA ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Paswan handed over the party mantle to his son Chirag last year and the young leader has been critical of the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the migrant crisis resulting therefrom.
Chirag Paswan, who also represents the Jamui Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar, had raised many eyebrows recently with his cryptic remark “we are supporting the government in the state but are not a part of it”.
The LJP chief was, understandably, venting his frustration at his party having no representation in the state government after his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, a member of the cabinet, got elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019.
Reports have claimed that Paswan has been unhappy over Nitish Kumar, who heads the JD(U), expressing unwillingness to part with a respectable number of seats in assembly polls for the LJP, which had contested six out of 40 in Bihar in Lok Sabha.
Last week, a district unit chief of LJP in Bihar was also removed from the post for giving a statement before the media that the NDA was “atoot” (unbreakable) in Bihar.
Although it was said that the lower-rank party leader had violated the diktat that only Chirag Paswan was authorised to make remarks with regard to alliance, the action fuelled fresh speculations about the LJP’s disaffection with the NDA.
At a video-conference meeting held by Rahul Gandhi with Congress leaders from Bihar, Rajya Sabha member Akhilesh Prasad Singh is understood to have conveyed the message that the rift in the NDA be cashed in on and attempts be made to woo the LJP.
Congress MLC and AICC media in-charge Prem Chandra Mishra held out an olive branch to the LJP on Saturday when he came out with a video message, reminding Ram Vilas Paswan of his association with the UPA and saying that he would be welcome in the Grand Alliance.
The Grand Alliance, a five-party coalition which comprises, besides RJD and Congress, HAM, RLSP and VIP, however itself seems to be in disarray.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has been dismissive of Chirag Paswan and his LJP. Besides, a key Grand Alliance partner HAM headed by former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has been dropping hints that it was feeling slighted by the RJD’s domineering ways and would not be reluctant to switch sides ahead of the assembly elections.