After a united Opposition gave a jolt to the BJP’s prospects of government formation in Karnataka and in the recent byelections in various States, the party is getting down to the business of strengthening its bonds with its allies in order to be fighting fit for the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
The party has called a meeting of its Bihar allies, district-level office-bearers upwards, including MLAs and MPs, of all NDA partners in Patna on June 7. While the meeting will be a team-building exercise, BJP president Amit Shah met Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in New Delhi on Sunday.
Mr. Paswan supported Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s demand for Special Category Status (SCS) for Bihar.
“All issues were discussed, especially the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The government has filed a review petition. The court is closed. So we demanded an ordinance for it. We also demanded an ordinance for reservation in promotions in government jobs. He [Amit Shah] agreed that a decision should be taken soon. As far as the SCS for Bihar is concerned, we have long been demanding it. Bihar is a backward State, so it must be given the status. The government must listen to our pleas,” said Mr. Paswan after the meeting, which was attended by his son, Chirag Paswan, Lok Sabha member, also.
Top BJP sources confirmed that talks had been on between the party and its allies in Bihar over seat adjustment for the 2019 election, with the return of the Janata Dal(U) to the NDA. “Most of the statements differing with us on issues [Mr. Kumar backtracked from his support to demonetisation, and demanded SCS for Bihar] are basically aimed at positioning before hard bargaining begins,” said a source in Patna.
Another ally, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), led by Upendra Kushwaha, has openly demanded that seat distribution be done now rather than later.
“Taking note of the performance of the Opposition unity candidates in the recent bypolls, the BJP should sit down with us and discuss seat adjustment and other issues,” Mr. Kushwaha said.
In 2009, when the BJP and the JD(U) fought the Lok Sabha polls together, the split in seats came down to 25 for the BJP and 15 for the JD(U). After Nitish Kumar’s exit from the NDA just before the 2014 polls, the BJP tied up with Mr. Paswan’s Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), and the RLSP. The BJP won 22 of the seats it contested, Mr. Paswan six out of seven and Mr. Kushwaha three out of four.
It is obvious that with the return of Mr. Nitish Kumar, that arrangement will have to be redone, and is creating much tension in the alliance.
The grand meeting of the NDA in Patna, with even district-level office-bearers of every party scheduled to participate will at least spread a feeling of unity among the allies, the BJP hopes.
Courtesy: The Hindu