‘RJD’s rising popularity and concerns over losing their core voters have added pressure on the leaders’.
After the recently concluded Bihar bypolls, frequent meetings of Janata Dal United (JDU) supremo Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) have triggered speculation about the possible formation of a front ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The meetings between Paswan and Kumar are being seen as political posturing ahead of the general elections. Concerns about losing their core voters and the rising popularity of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have added extra pressure on both the leaders, according to sources.
A source in the JDU told The Sunday Guardian: “The results of the bypolls have forced Kumar and Paswan to search for ways by which the duo can retain their political ground in Bihar. The BJP’s aggressive rise seems to be hurting the poll prospects of the JDU and LJP in the state and both leaders are aware that they can’t take the risk of losing their core voters of Other Backward Classes (OBC), Dalits and minorities.”
However, denying any possibility of forming any front in Bihar, JDU spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said: “Ram Vilas Paswan is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the meetings with Nitish Kumar were just part of a routine process. The ruling JDU, with its main ally BJP, is functioning smoothly and all the partners are working towards the development of the state.”
“JDU has formed alliance with the BJP on the terms of maintaining social harmony, political equity and economic development. All these ideals are binding on the stakeholders of the NDA and there is absolutely no need of forming any alliance with any political party,” Neeraj Kumar told The Sunday Guardian.
LJP leaders Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan, were not available to comment on the issue. When The Sunday Guardian contacted Ramji Singh, national vice-President of LJP, he said: “Only Ram Vilas Paswan or Chirag Paswan will be able to comment on this issue.”
Bypolls were held in two Assembly seats (Jehanabad and Bhabua) and one Lok Sabha seat (Araria). While the RJD retained both Araria and Jehanabad LS seats, the BJP retained the Bhabua seat.
According to a senior JDU leader, Kumar and Paswan, who met earlier this month, discussed various issues, including the alleged increasing communal tension in the state, and the results of the bypolls.
Sources said that both the leaders agreed to render the best possible support to each other to regain the core voters’ support in the state.
The violence that occurred after the bypolls is reportedly continuing, and has given an impression that the ruling JDU has been unable to stop the violence.
Sources said that the perception of failure to check violence might make the JDU lose its core vote bank, especially the Pasmanda (backward) sections who have always been part of the core vote base of the JDU.