The JD (U) and the BJP will contest on 17 Lok Sabha constituencies each. Quite a climbdown by the saffron camp as it had contested 30 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and won 22 during the 2014 parliamentary polls.
Days after Upendra Kushwaha quit the NDA, LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan kept a low profile. He was reportedly miffed over the rumour mills doing the rounds that the BJP won’t allocate LJP more than four seats in Bihar.
But Paswan, who has six MPs in the Lok Sabha, remained mum. Even his ardent supporters could not hazard a guess whether he will continue with the NDA or change colours for greener pastures.
“My son Chirag Paswan, who is also the chairman of the LJP Parliamentary Board, will take a final call,” he told everybody who asked him about the possible seat-sharing pact in the NDA.
But a shrewd politician that he is, Paswan silently worked on a twin strategy. In Patna, his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras, who is a minister in Nitish’s Cabinet, issued a veiled threat to the BJP saying the LJP won’t settle for anything less than seven Lok Sabha seats.
In New Delhi, Paswan’s son Chirag fired a salvo at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asking him to explain the benefits of demonetisation (so that he could make his voters understand in his constituency – Jamui).
Chirag’s letter was followed by series of tweets where the junior Paswan asked for ‘sammanjank samjauta’ (respectable seat-sharing pact) and suggested the BJP not to keep the issue pending for long “or else it could have grave consequences.”
Already anguished over the BJP not giving its allies proper respect, Chirag expressed his dismay through another tweet. This was followed by an interview to a TV channel where the junior Paswan said that “Modi Government should not be wary of constituting a JPC probe panel in Rafale deal if it felt that nothing wrong has been committed in the deal.”
It was then that the BJP roped in its tried and tested trouble-shooter Arun Jaitley, who, as the BJP in-charge of Bihar affairs a decade back, still enjoys a cordial relation with all the regional satraps.
“It was a seasoned Jaitley who assuaged the ruffled feathers of Paswans. The BJP veteran underlined the importance of the LJP in the NDA and intervened so that Paswans could have their say.
Eventually, the LJP got six seats to contest, besides an assurance of Rajya Sabha berth for Ram Vilas Paswan,” a high-level source in the LJP told Deccan Herald here on Sunday.
The LJP will now contest Hajipur, Jamui, Samastipur for sure. For the remaining seats, it has been asked to choose any three from these four constituencies: Khagaria, Vaishali, Nawada and Begusarai.