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BJP, LJP clinch seat sharing deal, RS seat likely for Paswan

IMAGE: Union minister and LJP president Ramvilas Paswan with party MP Chirag Paswan during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on Friday. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party has finalised a seat-sharing arrangement with its Bihar ally Lok Janshakti Party with the latter expected to contest five Lok Sabha seats in the state and its president Ram Vilas Paswan likely to be given a berth in the Rajya Sabha, top sources said on Friday.

They said an announcement to this effect may be made as early as Saturday.

The deal was clinched after Ram Vilas Paswan, who is also a Union minister, and his son Chirag Paswan met BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

Chirag, who has been vocal in airing his party’s differences with the BJP, told reporters that talks were on and claimed there were other issues besides sharing of seats.

Sources later said differences between the two parties have been resolved.

The LJP is also keen to have a seat in Uttar Pradesh but, a source said, the party may be asked to contest one seat less in Bihar.

If not Uttar Pradesh, it can be offered a seat in Jharkhand.

BJP president Amit Shah had earlier announced that his party and its key ally Janata Dal-United, which is headed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, will be contesting equal number of seats in the politically crucial state where the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had won 31 seats in 2014.

The deployment of Jaitley, an old Bihar hand in the party with friendly relations with leaders of different parties, by the BJP to buy truce with the LJP underscores the importance the saffron party has attached to continuing its alliance with Paswan’s party, which enjoys strong influence among Dalits.

Top BJP leaders, including its president Shah and Jaitley, had held an hour-long meeting with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son on Thursday to resolve their differences.

Chirag Paswan had earlier written a letter to Jaitley asking him to explain what benefits demonetisation brought to the country.

He had also tweeted that a delay in seat-sharing announcement may harm the ruling alliance.

Source: Rediff