[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP left NDA alleging a raw deal with regard to seat sharing for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP is feeling restive. Party parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan has expressed displeasure for the delay in finalising seat sharing despite several meetings with BJP leaders. In fact, he has tweeted that the NDA was passing through a critical phase after the exit of the RLSP and the TDP, and that in such a situation the BJP should address the concerns of the other parties in a ‘timely and respectful manner’.
Of course, the junior and senior Paswans’ situation is different from that of Kushwaha, who had failed to elicit any response from the BJP leaders over his repeated ultimatums. Chirag’s reminder may be just posturing as LJP is more or less reconciled to the idea that it would be unrealistic to expect the same number of seats as in the 2014 elections because the equations have changed drastically. The BJP has gone out of its way, though a bit curiously, to accommodate Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and agreed that the two parties would contest an equal number of seats from Bihar. Given that Nitish had won only two seats in the present Lok Sabha, contesting on the anti-BJP plank, this is a major sacrifice by BJP. Ram Vilas Paswan has already gone on record that all alliance partners will have to show such accommodative spirit and has signalled his party’s agreement. So, the number should not be a matter of contention. In any case, the senior Paswan has indicated his preference for a Rajya Sabha nomination, leaving all the affairs of the party to his son.
Although Chirag has expressed some uneasiness over the delay in finalising the seat sharing, it is not considered to be of any serious implication. The BJP’s performance in the latest Assembly elections has been somewhat of a shocker for the NDA partners. But they have not failed to note that the saffron party has put up a creditable performance in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling party registered a higher vote percentage than Congress despite the strong anti-incumbency factor. So, the NDA partners do not fear any significant erosion in the support base of BJP, which will most likely keep them united in the fold.
Also, they don’t see any greener pastures yet on the other side. MK Stalin’s overenthusiasm for Opposition unity, which prompted him to propose Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate, has already soured the taste, with most major parties distancing themselves from any such move. The much-hyped unity show at Kamal Nath’s swearing was a damp squib. So, overall the chances of opposition to Modi emerging as a cohesive force appear to be as distant as before.