Chirag seeks convenor, cites missing Sena, shrinking NDA

Harikishan Sharma
Chirag Paswan at his residence in New Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The tremors of the Shiv Sena’s parting of ways with the BJP in Maharashtra were felt at the NDA meeting in Delhi on Sunday, ahead of the Parliament session, with allies pitching for a mechanism to improve coordination and Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing the ruling alliance as “one big family”.

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) demanded appointment of a convenor for better coordination, and said the government should take up unemployment in the coming session. With the government announcing that the contentious citizenship (amendment) Bill would be introduced in this session, allies from the Northeast expressed their disquiet.

In his introductory remarks at the meeting, which was not attended by the Sena, Modi said NDA allies may have different ideologies but were like one family and should not get unsettled by small differences. Later he tweeted, “Our alliance represents India’s diversity and the aspirations of 130 crore Indians.”

Speaking to reporters after the NDA meeting, LJP chief Chirag Paswan said the appointment of a convenor or constitution of a coordination committee would ensure the exchange of ideas and views across alliance partners. “There should be better coordination,” he said, adding that this would also help check rumours being spread by the Opposition regarding NDA unity. The LJP and BJP are contesting elections separately in Jharkhand after failing to reach an agreement.

Appointed the LJP chief earlier this month, Paswan said the Sena’s absence had been felt as it was one of the oldest NDA members, and expressed concern over the “declining” alliance strength. The Telugu Desam Party had left the NDA earlier, and then the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, he pointed out, adding that what happened between the BJP and Sena in Maharashtra could have been avoided if there had been better coordination.

“But all of us (allies) will work together in the upcoming session and more such meetings should happen,” said Paswan.

Sources said the Apna Dal, JD(U) and a few allies from the Northeast also made similar suggestions.

Unlike Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time, there is hardly any consultation among allies in the NDA now. The usual practice is to just have floor coordination in both Houses of Parliament.

While the LJP asked the government to take up the issue of job demand, sources said Home Minister Amit Shah sought to reassure Northeast partners regarding the government’s plans on the citizenship Bill and the National Register of Citizens. The JD(U) talked about air and water pollution.

-with PTI inputs