Dozens of BJP and Janata Dal United workers and local leaders in Bihar's Hajipur came to blows on Friday, after the two allies differed openly, on the Ram Mandir issue at a public meeting. BJP workers shouted and raised slogans after JDU) leader, Sanjay Verma said, at the joint meeting, that the temple should not be the core campaign strategy. BJP and JD(U) leaders were chalking out the strategy for ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) candidate, Pashupati Kumar Paras, a minister in the state cabinet and younger brother of Ram Vilas Paswan.
In Bihar, NDA partners - BJP and JD(U) - are contesting on 17 seats each, while the LJP has fielded candidates in six constituencies. The state sends 40 parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha.
BJP workers present at the meeting banged on tables, threw chairs and climbed on the stage soon as Sanjay Verma commented on the Ram Mandir issue. LJP's Pashupati Kumar Paras tried to play down the public display of disagreement between the allies. "Only the media can see party workers fighting, the local people are not angry over anything," he said.
The BJP and the JD(U) do not see eye to eye on several contentious issues like the Ram Mandir, Article 370 and Article 35A. The party, set to release its manifesto on April 14, will take a different line from BJP on the construction of Ram Mandir, special status for Jammu and Kashmir and the citizenship bill, say sources.
The BJP, while playing down the temple issue in its manifesto, has taken a strong stand on Article 370, Article 35A and the National Register for Citizens. Party chief Amit Shah has vowed to implement the NRC across the country and weed out people who are not "Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhas."
Senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi told news agency ANI that the JDU and BJP have "different point of view". He said, "We have objected to NRC earlier as well and will do so in future." He condemned the "way voters are being influenced by political leaders on the basis of religious and communal statements."
"In my political career of 40-45 years, I have never seen such an extreme violation of model code of conduct as I see in 2019 Lok Sabha polls," said Mr Tyagi.