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Home / Bihar Election / Bihar Assembly Election 2020: JD(U), LJP in tussle over CM’s role, PM Modi’s images

Bihar Assembly Election 2020: JD(U), LJP in tussle over CM’s role, PM Modi’s images

The BJP plans to hand over a letter to the effect to the Election Commission, a party functionary said, as the battle lines became clear three weeks ahead of the first phase of the three-stage election.

bihar-election Updated: Oct 07, 2020 07:01 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi(File photo for representation)

In a sharp rebuff to the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which has decided to go it alone in the Bihar assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Tuesday that only its allies can use Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s images and speeches and refer to the government’s policies in the poll campaign, sending out a strong message in favour of chief minister Nitish Kumar.

The BJP plans to hand over a letter to the effect to the Election Commission, a party functionary said, as the battle lines became clear three weeks ahead of the first phase of the three-stage election. “The BJP is opposed to the use of PM Modi’s picture or his speeches during campaigning {by the LJP} since the LJP is no longer in {the} alliance,” said the functionary, requesting anonymity. To be sure, the LJP remains part of the NDA in the Centre.

Also on Tuesday, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), or JD (U), and the BJP announced a seat-sharing arrangement under which the former will fight 122 seats and the BJP 121 in the 243-member Bihar assembly, cementing the alliance between them.

The JD(U) will allot seven seats to the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), headed by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, and the BJP will accommodate the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahni, Nitish Kumar told reporters.

The BJP’s snub to the LJP came after the latter’s chief Chirag Paswan said on Sunday that his party would contest the polls on its own (but only against JD (U) candidates) because it didn’t want to do so under the leadership of Nitish Kumar while affirming that it continued to be a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre and will strengthen Modi’s hands.

Also Read | ‘Broken all records’: BJP takes a dig at Lalu Prasad’s 2-year hospital stay

What’s at stake became clearer on Tuesday — the JD (U) and LJP are both trying to parlay the popularity of the prime minister into power in the state, explaining the BJP’s bid to bar the latter from using Modi’s images, speeches and policies in the campaign; at another level, the LJP seems to be out to challenge Nitish Kumar in a post-poll race for the chief minister’s post.

Also in the fray is the alliance between Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and smaller parties.

The BJP dismissed speculation that the LJP’s move was aimed at allowing it to stake its claim for the CM’s post, if it (BJP) emerges as the single-largest party in the assembly polls, results for which will be declared on November 10. The BJP appears to be trying to placate the JD (U) and Nitish Kumar, smarting under the attacks from the LJP ahead of the polls set for October 28, November 3 and November 7.

Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal said: “...there should be no confusion with regard to the fact that in Bihar, the NDA’s leader is Nitish Kumar. Our alliance with his party is unbreakable.”

Responding to a query on the post-poll scenario, deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said: “We have said unequivocally that Nitish Kumar will be our chief minister. It does not matter which party gets how many seats in the elections.”

The deputy CM also said the BJP may write to the Election Commission to prevent parties other than the NDA partners from using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph in their posters. “If needed, we will write to the Election Commission that only four parties — JD (U), BJP, HAM and VIP — can use photo of PM Modi and if any other party is found using it, then the EC would be free to take action,” he said.

The JD (U) has pushed the BJP to clarify that the LJP cannot be allowed to piggyback on the NDA’s achievements. A JD (U) functionary said the party is upset with the speculation that the LJP had been encouraged to break away from the NDA in an attempt to upset its applecart, especially in rural areas. “There is doublespeak. On one hand, the LJP is saying that it is against the JD (U) and will contest alone, but on the other hand, it also wants to be part of the state government when it is formed,” the JD (U) functionary said.

Also Read | NDA seat-sharing pact sealed, Nitish Kumar jabs ex-ally Chirag Paswan

In response to the BJP’s directive that it would not be allowed to use the PM’s images, speeches or central policies in the campaign, the LJP retorted that the PM did not belong to any one party and that he belonged to the whole nation. LJP spokesperson Vikas Mishra said the party’s campaign will be centred on its “Bihar first, Bihari first” vision document. “Our campaign will be a positive one, we will not make any personal comments against anyone,” he said.

On Monday, Paswan, who has accused Nitish Kumar of failing to fulfil his poll promise of developing Bihar economically, wrote an open letter to the voters and attacked the state government’s “seven resolves” developmental programme, the JD (U)’s attitude towards its allies and “the overpowering influence of the bureaucracy”. He tweeted on Tuesday: “As soon as the next government is formed, an investigation will be carried out to assess the corruption in the saat nishchay {seven resolves} promise and the guilty sent to jail.”

In an interview with PTI, Paswan said: “I have been consistent in my support, belief and admiration for the prime minister since I fought my first election in 2014. It is Nitish Kumar who has been fluctuating in his stand. He joined hands with Lalu Prasad {in 2015} and then joined the NDA in 2017. He keeps thinking as to how he can continue to be chief minister rather than working for the state’s development.”

Political analyst DM Diwakar said the BJP’s move to approach the EC is a political stunt. “The LJP could not have taken such a step without BJP’s backing. Now they (the BJP) have to take a stand otherwise it will create a problem for them as well in transfer of JD (U)’s vote,” added Diwakar, who is associated with the AN Sinha Institute for Social Studies.

(Agencies contributed to this story)

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