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BJP chief Nadda writes to Chirag, others to join NDA meeting on Jul 18

Nadda described the regional party as a key constituent of the NDA and a key partner in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's push for the development and welfare of the poor.

BJP chief Nadda writes to Chirag, others to join NDA meeting on Jul 18
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 BJP president J P Nadda

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NEW DELHI: Several new allies and some former ones, including Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan, may attend the BJP-led NDA meeting on July 18 in a show of strength by the ruling alliance amid hectic efforts by the opposition to unite against the Modi government.

Union minister Nityanand Rai met with Paswan on Friday night for the second time in a week, and the LJP(R) also shared a letter written by BJP president J P Nadda to the young leader, inviting him to attend the NDA meeting.

Nadda described the regional party as a key constituent of the NDA and a key partner in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's push for the development and welfare of the poor.

Sources said the BJP president has written similar letters to leaders of various parties, including those the ruling party has reached out to ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi of the Hindustani Awam Morcha is one of them, and his son Santosh Kumar Suman told PTI that he will attend the July 18 meeting. He has also received an invite from Nadda, he added.

A number of new BJP allies, including the Shiv Sena headed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the NCP faction headed by Ajit Pawar, several smaller parties from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and regional parties from the northeastern states, are among those expected to attend the NDA meeting.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be present at the meeting, seen as the BJP's show of strength of the ruling bloc, National Democratic Alliance, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

This is for the first time during the second term of the Modi government that an NDA meeting of this scale is taking place after a number of old and key BJP allies, including Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal and the Janata Dal (United), severed ties with the party over a host of issues.

The BJP's outreach to Paswan, son of late stalwart Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan, underscores its push to bring him back into the NDA's fold after he walked out of the alliance in Bihar in the 2020 state assembly polls to campaign against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was then the BJP's biggest ally.

While a split in the LJP spearheaded by his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, now a Union minister, weakened him, Chirag Paswan is seen to have succeeded in retaining the party's loyal vote bank with him, signalling the BJP his importance in a state where it is pitted against the formidable coalition of the RJD, JD(U), Congress and the Left.

He has also been steadfast in his support of the BJP on key issues. Jan Sena Chief Pawan Kalyan, who enjoys some influence in Andhra Pradesh, will take part in the meeting, his party said. He has been a BJP ally and is also seen close to be close to the TDP.

While there is no clarity yet on how many parties will be represented in the meeting, sources asserted that their numbers will see a big rise from the 14 which had recently issued a joint letter against the major opposition parties' boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament building.

With the BJP top brass driving the outreach to new partners, their numbers can see a significant jump, a party leader said.

Though there has been speculation about the return of the Akali Dal and the Telugu Desam Party to the BJP-led front, but both sides have refused to confirm any such development.

PTI
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