| Ram Vilas Paswan |
New Delhi, Jan. 1: The year might bring with it a surprising political alliance in Bihar.
According to sources, the ruling JD(U) is all set to join hands with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP ahead of the upcoming general elections.
The possible alliance, likely to be formally announced later this week, was discussed between the two parties after several rounds of meeting between their leaders over the past few days.
A senior JD(U) leader, who did not wish to be named, said though Paswan and chief minister Nitish Kumar had not met yet, leaders of the two parties were constantly in touch in the capital over the past few weeks.
“The tie-up is likely to be declared within a few days. We have no problems with Paswan or his party in the state and are ready to join hands with them. We wanted an alliance to counter the BJP in the state and at the same time form a formidable front against Lalu’s RJD. Hence, this combination is emerging. It will help us both,” he told The Telegraph.
He added that a section within the LJP, including Ram Vilas’s son Chirag Paswan was wary of being overshadowed by “stigmatised” Lalu Yadav, who recently got convicted in a fodder scam case and is currently on bail.
Sources said the LJP got inclined towards the JD(U) after its talk with the RJD and its likely partner Congress over seat sharing did not materialise.
“Also, the party’s poor performance in the state during the last Lok Sabha elections — even party chief Paswan lost his traditional Hajipur constituency — when it partnered with Lalu against the NDA is something that has been looming large on the minds of leaders in the LJP,” said a source.
Even after serving a short stint behind the bars and after getting out of jail Lalu has been trying to make the most of a weakened JD(U) by strengthening the long-standing alliance among the Congress and the LJP, JD(U) had also been trying to strengthen his Dalit vote bank and offset the disadvantage of breaking his 17-year-old alliance with the BJP and the choice of not siding with Congress either.
Both parties had been giving feelers to the LJP. While the RJD had tried to maintain that its alliance with the LJP is strong, JD(U) leaders had been sending out indications that the party had no problems with Paswan provided they initiate the talks.
“Though Paswan commands only about five per cent of votes — parimarily Paswan-Dalits in Bihar — his secular credentials have given him new-found importance in light of Narendra Modi’s projection as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Modi’s campaign is expected to consolidate Muslim votes in favour of any alliance that looks good enough to beat the BJP and the state is very crucial,” the JD(U) leader said.