Ram Vilas Paswan handshakes with Bharatiya Janata Party

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 24 2014, 18:51pm hrs
A senior leader from Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party today said that his party has decided to go with Bharatiya Janata Party in the next Lok Sabha polls.

After a meeting of LJP leaders at Paswan's residence here, former MP and party leader Surajbhan Singh told reporters,"Alliance between LJP and Bharatiya Janata Party has been finalised."

However, LJP secretary general Abdul Khalik told PTI that no final decision has been taken, and only parliamentary board of LJP can decide it.

When asked how can the LJP chief, who was the first to quit NDA in 2002 protesting against Gujarat riots, could align with Bharatiya Janata Party whose prime ministerial candidate is Narendra Modi, Surajbhan Singh said, "When the court has given a clean chit to Modi, who are we to say anything."

He said that a formal announcement about the alliance will be made "very soon" in which it would be made clear which party will contest how many seats in Bihar.

He also said that Paswan will soon meet Bharatiya Janata Party chief Rajnath Singh over the issue.

However, other senior party leaders chose to remain ambivalent on the issue, saying no such decision has been taken as yet and the party is still to decide on the alliance issue.

"With regard to the alliance issue, no final decision has been taken only the parliamentary board of LJP can decide it. The board will meet in a couple of days," Khalik told PTI.

He however parried a question as to whether the LJP has had any talks for alliance with BJP.

"Our talks with Congress and RJD are going on," was his brief refrain to the question.

Another party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that with the delay in finalising an alliance between Congress, RJD and LJP, there is pressure from the party workers to chalk out a different path and take a decision which suits the party.

Sources said that some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders from Bihar had recently met Paswan.

There are forty Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Earlier, Paswan had given indication of aligning with JD(U) by praising Nitish Kumar.

Paswan's party had been an alliance partner of NDA government but the LJP chief was the first to quit the BJP-led alliance in 2002 post-Godhra riots when Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

After LJP quitting NDA, six other parties had also quit the alliance in quick succession and NDA had virtually disintegrated paving the way for Congress-led UPA to come to power in 2004.

Paswan had joined the UPA alliance in 2004 and became a cabinet minister. His party had then got only four seats. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was Railway Minister in UPA-I. After a bitter rivalry for some time in UPA I, the two had inched closer by the end of 2008.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls while RJD and LJP fought together but Congress walked out of the alliance.

In 2004, when Congress, RJD and LJP had contested together in Bihar they had won 29 of the forty seats with RJD winning 22, LJP 4 and Congress 3.

In 2009, when they fought minus Congress LJP failed to open its account and Paswan himself lost from home turf Hajipur, RJD won only four seats and Congress 2.

This time both Paswan and Prasad showed inclination to ally with Congress, While Prasad met Congress President Sonia Gandhi as well as Rahul Gandhi, Paswan had also held consultation with the Congress Chief on the issue. There where, however some hitches on the number of seats each party will contest. Commenting on the development, LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan's son Chirag Paswan said, "Party's line will be decided after its Parliamentary Board's meeting...As of now, we have no discussion on alliance with any party or group."

RJD Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav said, "I am not blind. I see everything and exclusion is not our policy. Had it been so, we would not have helped Paswan in his difficult days."

"He is a Dalit leader and we don't have any feeling of disrespect towards him. In our eyes, the leader (Surajbhan Singh) who has made this announcement, is not a big leader. Our target in these elections is Modi as we have to save the country from disintegration," he said.