Hidden Deal in Bihar Polls? BJP Leaders to Contest on LJP Tickets
RSS favourite Rajendra Singh and veteran BJP MLAs Rameshwar Chaurasia and Jawahar Prasad have joined the LJP.
One of the most keenly watched aspects of the Bihar Assembly elections is the complicated political triangle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal-United or JD(U) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Earlier this week, the LJP announced that it would not contest under the leadership of JD(U)‘s Nitish Kumar, a move that many alleged was the BJP’s ploy of cutting the incumbent Chief Minister to size.
This speculation may have gained some more strength after the LJP announced that it would be fielding top Bihar BJP leaders as candidates under its symbol.
RSS Favourite Now With LJP
An important name in this category is Bihar BJP vice-president Rajendra Singh, who joined the LJP on Tuesday 6 October. He was former general secretary (organisation) in Jharkhand and former incharge for Jharkhand and Varanasi region in Uttar Pradesh.
Rajendra Singh is likely to be the LJP’s candidate from the Dinara seat in Buxar district. As the seat is held by the Janata Dal (United), it would in all likelihood fallen in the party’s kitty in the seat-sharing arrangement.
It is important to understand who Rajendra Singh is. In his mid 50s, he has had a long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and worked in several organisational responsibilities in the BJP, including as the in-charge for the 2014 Jharkhand elections.
An RSS favourite, he is said to have been one of the front-runners for the CM’s post if the BJP had won the 2015 Bihar elections.
Given his Sangh background and the manner in which he has been embedded in the BJP organisation, it is difficult to believe that he would decide to join the LJP without the party’s consent.
Two Veteran BJP MLAs Also Switch Sides
Another important leader joining the LJP is Rameshwar Chaurasia, who is a member of the BJP national executive. He is likely to contest from the Nokha constituency in Rohtas district under the LJP symbol. He represented the seat four times between 2000 and 2010 but lost to RJD’s Anita Devi in 2015.
Five time BJP MLA from Sasaram, Jawahar Prasad, has also joined the LJP, supposedly because the seat has been given to the JD(U) in the seat-sharing arrangement.
Prasad is an RSS old timer as well as a veteran BJP MLA having won the seat in 1990, 1995, 2005 Februrary, 2005 October and 2010. His archrival in the seat has been RJD’s Ashok Kumar who lost to Prasad in 1995, the two elections in 2005 and in 2010 but defeated him in 2000 and 2015.
The seat was supposed to have gone to the BJP’s kitty in the seat-sharing but the situation changed after Ashok Kumar shifted to the JD(U) last month, sealing the party’s claim on the seat in the distribution.
Does This Indicate an LJP-BJP Deal?
Observers say that it is highly unlikely that either of these three veteran BJP leaders would rebel from their own party and that their shift to the LJP may have the leadership’s blessings.
Obviously such “deals” cannot be proven. Sources within the JD(U) say that the party will insist that the BJP takes a strict view of such “rebels” and it is likely that the party may be forced to issue a public statement against them.
But what is known is that there was a great deal of resentment among BJP cadres and supporters when these three seats and a few others were given to the JD(U).
So when it comes to the election itself, it is quite likely that a large chunk of BJP cadres may end up campaigning for LJP candidates in these seats and, in effect, against the JD(U).
The two parties are contesting almost the same number of seats - with JD(U) getting 122 seats for itself and the Hindustan Awam Morcha and BJP getting 121 for itself and the Vikassheel Insan Party. So if BJP workers back LJP candidates in a number of seats, it would naturally affect the JD(U)‘s tally and help BJP become the bigger partner in the alliance. Eventually, this would lead to weakening of Nitish Kumar.
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