BJP, JD(U) zero in on 50-50 seat share deal in Bihar; LJP plays hardball

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |

October 4, 2020 11:50:06 am

Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Amit Shah, Nitish Kumar, Ramvilas Paswan with his son Chirag paswan during a press conference on Bihar tickets in 2018

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JDU) and its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, are likely to evenly split the number of seats they would be contesting in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections. With Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party still bargaining hard over seats, the two allies will contest 119 seats each and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha from five seats, a source has told The Indian Express. A formal announcement is expected today.

The JD(U) and BJP have been treading cautiously on seat-sharing amid aggressive posturing by the LJP. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, MoS MHA Nityanand Rai, and BJP’s in-charge for Bihar Bhupender Yadav along with Home Minister Amit Shah today held a meeting at BJP chief JP Nadda’s residence to decide the future course of action.

Trouble has been brewing between Nitish Kumar and LJP’s Chirag Paswan over seat-sharing in the state. Chirag, who has been under pressure from his party leaders to go it alone in 143 constituencies, met BJP President J P Nadda for the second time this week. Earlier, a senior LJP leader had told The Indian Express, “It is almost certain we will not fight under Nitish Kumar. Until a formal announcement, things can still change, but it seems difficult now.”

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On Saturday, the Opposition announced its seat formula with RJD being given 144 seats and Congress 70. Besides, a total of 29 seats have been allocated to three Left parties—CPI-ML (19), CPI (6), CPM (4)—to contest. The RJD was said to be unwilling to give the Congress more than 60 seats, but eventually reconciled to 70 seats since it ostensibly did not want to let another ally go after RLSP and HAM(S) left Grand Alliance in the last two months over seat-sharing. Besides, the Congress has been RJD’s most trusted ally.

At present, JD(U) has 71 MLAs and BJP has 53 legislators. In the 2010 Assembly elections, the JD(U) and BJP had contested on 141 and 102 seats, respectively.

The Bihar assembly elections would be held in three phases on October 28, November 3, and November 7, with the counting day on November 10.

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