With the Narendra Modi government fighting the perception of being anti-Dalit, leaving the BJP vulnerable, key NDA ally from Bihar Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), headed by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, is confident of getting more seats to contest in Bihar during the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. The LJP is also lobbying for seats in Uttar Pradesh.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal(U) and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, have staked claim for a fair share of the 40 seats. The BJP holds 22 seats, LJP has six and JD(U) four. Mr. Kushwaha’s party has the lone seat that he himself represents. The BJP has indicated that it is not willing to fight the poll on fewer than 20 seats. The remaining 20 has to be shared among the three allies. “The government is not in a position to discount us if it wants to ensure that its pro-Dalit credentials are not questioned. We contested seven seats in the last election and lost only one, that too by a very small margin. So there is no question of us accepting fewer than seven,” a top LJP leader said.
The party said that if its services are to be utilised in Uttar Pradesh, then it should be rewarded. “There is a huge population of the Passi caste in eastern Uttar Pradesh and also in Rae Bareli and Amethi. It is obvious that the BJP would want LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag to be involved in campaigning. The BJP will do well to at least give us three or four seats in the State,” the leader added.
Mr. Paswan has been maintaining a studied silence. “We have had no discussions on seats. It will be done at the due time,” the Minister said.