Bihar: BJP finalises seat share deal with Nitish, Paswan

The Asian Age.

India, All India

The JD(U), which has only two MPs, will contest from 17 seats, while the BJP, in spite of having 17 MPs, will also contest from 17 seats.

BJP president Amit Shah, flanked by JD(U) chief and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Union minister and LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan, during a press conference in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: After several rounds of closed-door meetings with allies over seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday announced that his party and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) will contest from 17 seats each, while Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will fight from the remaining six.

The JD(U), which has only two MPs, will contest from 17 seats, while the BJP, in spite of having 17 MPs, will also contest from 17 seats. Mr Nitish Kumar, who managed to get seats equal to that of the BJP, said the decision of the candidates for the seats will be taken later.

“We hope to do better than 2014,” said Mr Shah, while announcing the agreement in New Delhi. “We will work together and will improve our performance,” he said.

The deal suggests a victory of sorts for the LJP which had adopted an aggressive stand seeking a better bargain from the BJP after the exit of Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) from the ruling alliance. One of the biggest tasks for the BJP was to win the confidence of the LJP and resolve the differences as in recent times Mr Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag had been quite vocal about his party’s differences with the BJP. A deal was sealed with the LJP after Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, also a Cabinet minister in the NDA government at the Centre, and his son met finance minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Friday.

After Sunday’s development, Mr Chirag Paswan said there was never a problem in the alliance as he has nurtured the “NDA tree” for five years under Mr Modi’s leadership. The LJP will also be given a Rajya Sabha berth with Mr Ram Vilas Paswan likely to be its candidate.

Mr Shah asserted that the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar will win more than the 31 seats it had got in 2014 and expressed confidence that it will come back to power at the Centre in 2019. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.

On the decision to send Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, presently a Lok Sabha member from Hajipur in Bihar, to the Rajya Sabha, the Bihar CM said it is a recognition of his long service to the country.

Mr Paswan is a nine-time member of the Lok Sabha and the decision means that the 72-year-old leader is unlikely to contest any more election and will be handing over the reins of the party to his son.

A few days ago, one of NDA’s allies in Bihar, Mr Kushwaha’s RLSP jumped ship and joined the Congress-led grand alliance as BJP did not give his party the number of seats he had been demanding.