Patna: With less than a year left for the Lok Sabha polls, the NDA in Bihar faces a daunting task of resolving the thorny seat-sharing issues among its four allies — BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP.
Although a formal announcement over seat-sharing is awaited, reports suggest there is a simmering discontent among the NDA allies over the reported seat-sharing formula in which BJP gets 20, JD(U) gets 12, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) gets six and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) gets two seats out of the 40 parliamentary seats.
Reactions coming from BJP and JD(U) leaders also give rise to speculation regarding growing uneasiness within the alliance.
Sources claim that the chief minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), which wants to either contest on more or equal number of seats with BJP in the 2019 general elections, may take some stern decisions if the issue is not resolved.
RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha has already shocked everyone in the political circle here by his “Kheer theory” and hinted at the possibility of political ties with RJD, Congress-led Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.
There is a buzz in political circles that Mr Kushwaha who has been demanding to contest on more seats than chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in the 2019 general elections and also wants to be projected as the chief ministerial face for 2020 Assembly elections was upset with the formula which didn’t give enough weight to his party, RLSP.
Mr Kushwaha has blamed “a few NDA leaders for spreading rumours about the seat-sharing formula” and urged the BJP to hold a meeting to discuss and resolve the issue.
Sources claim that the reported 20-20 seat-sharing formula has also upset Mr Kumar who is likely to discuss the issue with his party leaders in the JD(U)’s state executive meeting scheduled for September 16.
Political analysts claim that JD(U) leaders are likely to mount pressure on the BJP to reconsider its decision to leave just 20 out of the 40 seats for its allies. The JD(U) is unlikely to settle for anything less than 20 seats.Reports suggest that the leadership of the party was upset with the BJP keeping 20 seats for itself while leaving another 20 for the rest of its allies. Party sources said that Mr Kumar, who is also the national president of JD(U), will take a final call on the issue.
A BJP functionary without wishing to be quoted said, “Allies demanding to contest on more seats must realise that the BJP is a senior partner and has a maximum number of sitting MPs in the Lok Sabha.”
Mr Kumar returning to the NDA fold in July 2017 with the claim of being the “big brother” has created problems for other partners.
In the pre-2014 seat-sharing arrangements, the JD(U) was in the position of “big brother” and the BJP was its junior partner in Bihar.
The JD(U) had contested 24 seats and the BJP 16 seats in 2004. In 2009, the JD(U) contested on 25, leaving 15 seats for the BJP. But the situation changed after 2014 as the JD(U) after breaking away from the BJP contested alone and won just two seats. The BJP along with NDA partners — LJP and RLSP — had bagged 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar. The BJP won 22, LJP six and RLSP three seats.
Political analysts claim that the 20-20 seat-sharing arrangements can force the LJP to leave at least one of its sitting Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
Reports suggest that two of LJP MPs — Veena Devi from Munger and Rama Singh from Vaishali — have already turned dissidents and may not be fielded as NDA candidates in the 2019 general elections.
Speculation is rife that Rama Singh may become a part of Mahagathbandhan by joining hands with the RJD and contest as their joint candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
There is also a buzz that the BJP may persuade LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan to vacate the Munger seat for JD(U) leader Lalan Singh who is also a confidant of the chief minister.
Sources claim that in the current scenario, the BJP is trying hard to put an end to all the speculations regarding internal conflict among NDA constituents over the issue of seat-sharing.
However, a section in the party also seemed confident of working out a formula acceptable to everyone.
“A joint meeting will settle the seat-sharing disputes among all allies. We are confident that a solution will be worked out at the right time which will be acceptable to all NDA partners,” a JD(U) insider said, adding that the final countours of the arrangement would be known shortly.