The Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) has decided to put up 143 names for the Bihar Assembly polls and authorize Chirag to take a call on whether to contest under the leadership of Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar.
The LJP has two MLAs in the 243-member Bihar Assembly election for which are due later this year.
The decision at the LJP’s Bihar Parliamentary board came on Monday after months of oblique criticism of Nitish over his record of governance. It is widely believed that communication lines between the two leaders have shut for over a year.
After the LJP meeting, Raju Tiwari, Bihar MLA and president of the party’s state Parliamentary board, spoke about two key decisions. The first suggested selection of 143 candidates by the party and forwarding that list to the Parliamentary board.
“A resolution was also passed giving powers to Chirag Paswan to decide on the future course of action – whether to stay in an alliance (with JD-U, among other NDA members, in Bihar),” Tiwari said.
A senior LJP leader said that before the meeting, a phone call was received from a senior national BJP leader, suggesting a meeting between the two parties for the weekend.
The BJP maintains that NDA, of which LJP is an ally, should remain united. A senior Bihar BJP leader said, “In close fights, LJP candidates contesting against JD (U) will only harm the alliance.”
The LJP has praised BJP and Prime Minister Modi, and wants to continue in an alliance with the national party, especially with Ram Vilas Paswan as a Union minister.
At the meeting, a senior LJP member said, a demand was raised to contest the election without the JD(U) and to put up candidates against it.
“I will put my demand (given) that in the past Chirag Paswan-ji has been called Kalidas,” Sanjay Singh, senior LJP leader and board member, said, referring to JD (U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh calling Chirag ‘Kalidas’ and recalling a tale about the Sanskrit poet cutting the tree branch he was sitting on.
Singh said, “When he (Chirag) raises issues of Bihar, he is called a rebel. Amid such things, we should talk about what Bihar needs, and…wherever there is a JD (U) candidate, we should put up an LJP candidate. This is going to be my demand.”
Sources in LJP said any decision on the party fighting it alone is to be taken by the central Parliamentary board, which comprises present and past MPs. “Opinions from state leaders have been taken. Now a meeting of present and former MPs will be called to discuss further. All options are open,” said a senior leader.