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Shah reaches out to Paswan father and son

The BJP's action came amid fears that Ram Vilas Paswan is quitting the NDA

  • Published 21.12.18, 3:16 AM
  • Updated 21.12.18, 8:26 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Amit Shah with Chirag Paswan and Ram Vilas Paswan after the meeting at the BJP president’s residence in New Delhi on Thursday. (Prem Singh)

The BJP on Thursday reached out to Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag to ensure that the Lok Janshakti Party leaders remain with the NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

BJP general secretary and Bihar minder Bhupender Yadav first drove to Ram Vilas’s New Delhi residence — 12 Janpath — and then took the father-son to a meeting with party chief Amit Shah. Finance minister Arun Jaitley was also present at the meeting at Shah’s residence.

The unusual reach-out by the BJP came amid fears of Ram Vilas considering quitting the NDA and aligning with the Opposition alliance in Bihar.

“The meeting with Amit Shahji was very good. Paswanji will remain with the NDA and he will be given full respect,” a BJP leader said, indicating that the LJP leaders had intensified their demand for a fair share of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar after the BJP’s defeat in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

“There are some issues that Paswanji put before us. They will be resolved,” the BJP leader added.

The BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JDU, according to sources, have decided to contest 17 Lok Sabha seats each and leave the remaining six for the LJP. The Paswans now seem to be bargaining for more apart from a Rajya Sabha berth for Ram Vilas.

Ram Vilas, the Union consumer affairs minister, doesn’t want to contest elections because of health reasons and needs the support of the BJP and JDU legislators in Bihar to make it to the Rajya Sabha.

There was, however, no official assurance from the Paswans that the LJP would remain with the NDA after the meeting with Shah. The father-son remained tight-lipped, with sources in the party indicating that negotiations with the BJP would continue.

Ram Vilas, widely seen as a master political weather cock, had abandoned his alliance with the RJD ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and aligned with the BJP.

The BJP leadership was alarmed after Chirag, a Lok Sabha MP from Bihar, earlier this week warned the BJP of “damage” if it failed to finalise the Bihar seat-sharing deal in time. Chirag even lauded Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s leadership.

The BJP and the JDU had after a meeting between Shah and Nitish in October announced that the two parties would contest an equal number of seats and assured that the deal with the other allies would be finalised in a couple of days.

“We kept calling and urging the BJP leaders to settle the seats but nobody listened. After Chirag’s tweet we started getting calls,” an LJP leader said.

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