The BJP is likely to spell out its stand tomorrow on ally Chirag Paswan's move to go solo in the October-November Bihar election. Sources say the party plans to tweak its strategy and its choice of candidates, given the changed caste math. But it is likely to underscore that it remains firmly with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata dal United (JDU).
Top BJP leaders, including Bihar in-charge Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, met in Delhi at party chief JP Nadda's home today.
After much stalling, the BJP and Nitish Kumar agreed on their seat share pact just a day after Chirag Paswan's move. The JDU will contest 122 of Bihar's 243 seats and the BJP, 121. The JDU will accommodate Jitan Ram Manjhi's party from its share and the BJP will give some seats to the VIP or Vikassheel Insan Party.
The BJP was also to provide for seats for the LJP from its share, but that is moot now.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Nadda and other top leaders in the party's central election committee held discussions on Bihar seats and candidates.
Chirag Paswan, the leader of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), announced yesterday that he would not contest the polls as part of the National Democratic Alliance, asserting that his problem was with Nitish Kumar's performance even though there was "no bitterness" with the BJP.
Chirag Paswan, whose father Ram Vilas Paswan is a minister in PM Modi's government, said his party and the BJP would form government after the Bihar election. He also declared that he would put up candidates opposite Nitish Kumar's party but avoid seats being contested by the BJP.
But sources say the BJP may make it clear to the Paswans that they cannot use PM Modi's images in their campaign as they had planned to.
Many believe Chirag Paswan's move, which followed two meetings with the BJP leadership in Delhi, has the tacit blessings of the BJP in its "Plan B" to keep ally Nitish Kumar in check.
Outwardly, however, the BJP brass has firmly endorsed Nitish Kumar as the NDA coalition's leader for the polls.
The LJP, which claims a strong Dalit vote-base, has followed a similar strategy in past elections. In 2005, the party contested against ally RJD, preventing Lalu Yadav's party from winning another term. The election resulted in a hung assembly and in subsequent polls, Nitish Kumar won enough seats to form government.
Chirag Paswan had been building up to the split with his frequent, unsubtle digs at Nitish Kumar over the past few months. He openly criticised the Chief Minister's handling of the coronavirus and the migrant crisis. Mr Kumar's move to bring to the NDA former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Dalit leader like the Paswans with a similar support base, worsened the feud.