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BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is under strain with one coalition partner following the other in criticising the major party.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) have already quit the formation, as had Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM). Kushwaha today joined Congress’ ‘Mahagatbandhan’.

In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena has often criticised BJP on various issues and also praised Congress president Rahul Gandhi on some occasions. After Congress ousting BJP from governments in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Shiv Sena even praised Rahul Gandhi and congratulated the voters of the three states for their “brave decision” of showing the door to the BJP.

In a sign of things to come, it is now Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) – the party of Ram Vilas Paswan who many call the ‘weather vane’ of Indian politics – to speak out against the BJP.

The LJP, which was previously with the Congress-led UPA and before that with previous NDA government, had re-joined the NDA ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and won six out of the seven seats it had contested. The party also got a ministerial berth in the state government when Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA last year.

At a time when BJP along with the rest of Sangh parivar’s Hundutva brigade is busy building up the Ram temple issue, Ram Vilas Paswan’s son and LJP parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan said Ram Mandir issue is not on priority for LJP warned BJP that it should focus on development to avoid any further losses in elections.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Paswan said: “We have clearly said in the NDA meeting on December 10 that we should stick to our development agenda. Some people raising issues like the Ram temple (construction) and Bajrangbali (UP CM Yogi Adityanath had called Lord Hanuman a Dalit) only confuses people. The temple can be the agenda of one party but not of the NDA or government. Let us wait for the court’s order on it.”

At the same time, he had a word of appreciation for Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Paswan said there was a “definite change” in Congress president Rahul Gandhi and that he should be credited with the party’s victory in the recent state assembly elections.

“Congress party has won after a long time. You’ll have to give it to him. If you criticise someone, you should also appreciate them when they perform well. They chose issues well,” ANI quoted Paswan as saying. Paswan said while Congress raised issues of farmers and unemployment, “we stayed tangled in religion and temples”.

The LJP has also been at odds with the BJP over seat sharing for next year’s national polls in Bihar.

Ram Vilas Paswan’s son and LJP parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan said in a series of tweets that there was no headway despite a number of meetings with the BJP leadership over the issue of seat-sharing in Bihar.

The LJP yesterday (Wednesday, Dec 19) pressed for finalisation of the coalition’s seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar by month-end while making it clear it will not agree for anything less than six Lok Sabha seats and one in Rajya Sabha.

The assertion was made by LJP’s state president Pashupati Kumar Paras, younger brother of the party chief and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, a day after the party’s parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan expressed dissatisfaction over no headway being made on the seat-sharing issue despite several meetings with the BJP leaders. Paras said the NDA has “undoubtedly” weakened in Bihar with exit of partners like Jitan Ram Manjhi and Upendra Kushwaha.

“We met the BJP leaders several times over the seat sharing for the alliance, but even now there has been no concrete decision. Unless these decisions are made in time, it could have consequences,” Chirag Paswan tweeted yesterday.

“Following the exit of the TDP and the RLSP, the NDA is passing through trying times. In view of this, it is imperative that the BJP addresses the concerns of those still in the alliance in a timely and respectable manner,” Paswan tweeted in Hindi.

Paswan, at India Today Group’s Agenda Aaj Tak 2018, however, had said that this party will not quit the NDA like the TDP.

Meanwhile, said a report by India Today (IT), LJP leader Pashupati Paras said that the party wants Narendra Modi to become the prime minister again, demanding seven seats at the earliest. He added that the LJP was not consulted when Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar announced seat-sharing.

“Amit Shah should have asked all the parties of NDA in Bihar to come together and sit. There is trouble in NDA after [HAM’s Jitan Ram] Manjhi and Kushwaha quit,” he told IT.

Paras said that the LJP is setting December 31 as the deadline for the BJP to announce the seat-sharing agreement in NDA.

Chirag Paswan’s tweets have drawn the attention of Tejashwi Yadav and Upendra Kushwaha, who have invited him to join up. Mr Kushwaha said the time has come for him to show his worth by walking out of the alliance, as the BJP never cares for allies. Tejashwi Yadav said “Paswan-ji is most welcome in Mahagathbandhan fold”.

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