By Anand Singh
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The rift in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is visible in Bihar ahead of the upcoming assembly elections as one of the ally partners — the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) — has decided to draw up the candidates’ list for 143 out of 243 seats in the state. Also, LJP leaders have demanded that the party must not contest elections under Nitish Kumar’s leadership.
The decision on the number of seats to be contested was taken during the Parliamentary Board meeting of the party chaired by LJP chief Chirag Paswan earlier in the day.
In the meeting, it was decided that the party leaders will prepare the list of 143 candidates for the Bihar Assembly polls and submit it to Paswan.
The LJP Parliamentary Board also decided that Chirag will take a call on the seat-sharing formula with NDA allies in Bihar.
LJP sources said that a number of LJP leaders were against contesting elections under the leadership of Nitish Kumar.
The source said that during the meeting, party leaders apprised Paswan of the negative perception of Nitish Kumar because of poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the flood situation, migrant workers and employment issues.
The meeting comes days after former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi joined the NDA. On a number of occasions, Manjhi has criticised the LJP chief for his stand on several issues.
In the recent posters at Patna, Manjhi’s HAM-S has not given space to any LJP leader while pictures of the BJP, JD-U leadership were there.
Meanwhile, the LJP chief has also locked horns with an NDA ally, the ruling Janata Dal-United, on a number of issues.
Paswan has even shot off several letters to Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United chief Nitish Kumar about the law and order situation in the state, the failure of the state government in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, the flood situation and lack of employment opportunities for migrant workers.
However, Kumar has not replied to any letter of Paswan, that has irked the party leadership.
According to JD-U sources, the key issue behind the recent friction between Nitish Kumar and the LJP chief is seat-sharing for the Bihar assembly elections.
The source said that Chirag Paswan is eyeing to contest at least 43 seats in the assembly elections but Nitish Kumar is not in a mood to give more than 25-30 seats to the LJP.
The LJP, which fought the 2015 assembly elections with the BJP as the ally partner, contested on 55 seats and managed to win just two seats. The LJP finished runner up in 36 assembly seats and managed to get 4.8 per cent vote share.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])