No Problem with Any Candidate Chosen by BJP for Bihar CM: Chirag Paswan amid Rumours of Rift in NDA
As Bihar Assembly elections draw nearer, there have been wishpers of a rift between allies Lok Janshakti Party and Janata Dal (United) over the chief ministerial candidate. However, dismissing rumours, LJP chief Chirag Paswan on Saturday said, "I have no problem with the name of Nitish Kumar as the face of the NDA."
"I am okay with any Tom, Dick or Harry chosen by the BJP," NDTV quoted the 37-year-old leader, who has been critical of the Bihar chief minister over management of floods and the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Laying down certain conditions for the alliance, Paswan said that the partners need to agree to a common minimum programme which includes his "Bihar First and Bihari First" campaign and said that he was not willing to work on Kumar's 'seven resolves' commitment, announced ahead of the 2015 election.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's son, Chirag has in past expressed his ambition for the chief ministership of the state.
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar on Saturday held a crucial meeting with BJP president Jagat Prakash Nadda on seat-sharing among the NDA alliance partners for the assembly elections due in October-November.
Paswan has also called a meeting of all party MPs on September 16 as the party continues to deliberate whether to fight against the JD(U) in the upcoming polls. LJP sources said the meeting will also consider the proposal by the party's Bihar unit that it should contest 143 seats in the elections to the 243-member state assembly.
The LJP has six members in the Lok Sabha from the state and one Rajya Sabha member is its founder and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan. The party also hopes that there will be clarity by the time of the meeting about the seat-sharing arrangement between the two principal National Democratic Alliance parties, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-headed JD(U) and the BJP.
LJP sources said any attempt to undermine the party's position in the state will prompt it to go all out against the JD(U). They said the JD(U) has been working to undercut the LJP. They cited the ruling party's decision to join hands with Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has a history of targeting the LJP, a party whose base is primarily among Dalits, as another attempt in this regard.
The schedule for assembly elections in the state is likely to be announced in the coming days. The Election Commission has indicated that it would like to conclude the exercise before end of term of the present house on November 29.