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LJP Chief Chirag Paswan (PTI)
LJP Chief Chirag Paswan (PTI)

Rajya Sabha bypoll to decide NDA’s fate in Bihar

The Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan

NEW DELHI : The election for one Rajya Sabha seat in Bihar, which fell vacant with the death of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, could decide whether the LJP will remain part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The LJP, led by Chirag Paswan, is keen that the seat should be given to the party. It could get the support of key opposition party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), if the LJP does not contest as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance.

The Election Commission (EC) had on Thursday said that elections and counting for the lone Rajya Sabha seat will be held on 14 December.

“The vacant Rajya Sabha seat was of the LJP and before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP leadership had promised the LJP that one Rajya Sabha seat from Bihar would be given to the party. It is for the BJP now to honour its commitment," said a senior LJP leader based in Patna.

LJP leaders said that in the 2014 general elections, the party had contested seven Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. When the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), led by chief minister Nitish Kumar decided to contest the 2019 polls under the NDA, it was decided that the LJP would get six Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha in Bihar to accommodate all alliance partners.

“We are going to have a meeting of LJP leaders in the coming days and this will be discussed. The seat is rightfully that of the LJP. So far, we have not been conveyed that LJP will get the seat or the BJP will not help the party. The electoral performance of the LJP in Bihar and the performance of each of the candidates will also be discussed in detail," said the LJP leader mentioned above.

The BJP has to do the balancing act as both the JD(U) and LJP are its alliance members but senior leaders of the JD(U) and a section of BJP’s Bihar unit feel that LJP is not part of the NDA in Bihar.

“The LJP has never been in alliance with JD(U). The party was part of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) when JD(U) was with the BJP. Before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the JD(U) had left the NDA and the LJP had joined. The JD(U) returned and joined hands with the BJP in 2017. The LJP has been a consistent alliance partner of BJP," said a second LJP leader seeking anonymity.

The tenure of the seat is till April 2024. The EC will issue a notification for the seat next week on 26 November. The last date of nomination is 3 December and the last date of withdrawal of nomination is 7 December.

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