LJP’s new demands: Seats in Jharkhand and UP

Patna: Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally, has ramped up the pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to acquiesce to their demands for seat share in Bihar and to add seats in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand as well to sweeten the deal further.

Pashupati Paras, a top leader in the LJP and a member of the Paswan clan, demanded that his party should get the same seat share in Bihar that they got in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. His demands also included seats for the LJP in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

“We are asking for what is rightfully ours. We are an honest partner of the NDA. We are asking for the same number of seats that we fought from in 2014. We definitely want seats from Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh as well, as our vote bank exists in these states. Time is running out now. We want Amit Shah to finalise this by December 31. We want them (BJP) to maintain the sanctity of the coalition,” Paras told ANI.

Top sources in the LJP who wished to remain anonymous due to the politically sensitive nature of pre-poll coalition discussions added that the BJP was yet to respond to LJP’s demands. In fact, talks related to seat share with the BJP had not been held at all.

The sources went on to say that letters had been written to the Finance Minister to get clarifications on demonetisation but had yielded no results from North Block. “We need these clarifications so that we can give answers to people. The results of the recent polls in three states are worrying,” added the LJP source.

LJP’s new set of demands come in the backdrop of another NDA ally, Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) severing ties with the NDA after their demands were met with a stoic silence from the BJP.

With six seats in the Lok Sabha, LJP is an important ally in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

On Tuesday, its MP Chirag Paswan had launched a veiled threat to pull out of the NDA. He further advised the BJP to look into the concerns of its allies or gear up to face consequences at this “delicate” stage.

“The NDA is going through a delicate phase after Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) pulled out of the alliance. At this point in time, the BJP should look into concerns of the parties who are still in alliance with them before it is too late,” he had tweeted in Hindi.

Furthermore, Paswan had claimed that he had met BJP leaders for discussing matters pertaining to seat sharing in the assembly, but nothing substantial was achieved.

“We spoke to BJP leaders about the seat share but nothing substantial has come out till now. It is in their interest to ensure the decisions in this matter are taken in the right direction well in time, otherwise, they will have to bear the damages,” Paswan had tweeted.