The Bhartiya Janata Party on Wednesday gave 11 seats from its quota to Mukesh Sahni-led Vikassheel Insaan Party, the new entrant to the NDA alliance in Bihar.
Earlier, the two major alliance partners had shared the 243 State assembly seats between themselves: the JD(U) 122 and the BJP 121. Three-phase elections to the Assembly are scheduled to begin on October 28.
On Tuesday, JD(U) had allocated seven seats from its quota to another alliance partner, the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular)-led by former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
“We’ve allocated 11 seats and one State council seat to VIP… The BJP has always respected people from Extremely Backward Castes…in the last Assembly poll, our party gave 25 seats to EBS candidates, of which they won 12,” said senior State BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. “It was the NDA government that came up with 20% reservation for EBC in panchayat poll and today over 1600 mukhias [village heads] in Bihar are from these castes.”
Addressing media persons, VIP leader Mukesh Sahni said he was happy to return to the BJP-led NDA. “I had started my political innings in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll with the aim of making Narendra Modi the Prime Minister,” he said.
Earlier on October 2, Mr. Sahni had stunned the mahagathbandhan leaders by making an abrupt exit from the press meet called to announce the seat allocation among alliance partners. “I was stabbed in the back and cheated,” Mr. Sahni said while making a hasty exit.
The VIP has been given Brahmpur, Bochaha, Gaura Bauram, Simri Bakhtiyarpur, Sugauli, Madhubani, Kewati, Sahebganj, Balrampur, Ali Nagar and Baniapur.
Filing of nominations begins
Meanwhile, candidates have started filing nominations for the first-phase of elections for 71 seats. October 8 is the last date for filing nominations. Senior BJP leader Prem Kumar filed his papers for the eighth time from the Gaya assembly constituency, while HAM(S) party leader Jitan Ram Manjhi filed his nomination from Imamganj constituency.
Imprisoned bahubali (strongman) Anant Singh too filed his nomination papers on Wednesday from Mokama assembly constituency as an RJD candidate. His wife Neelam Devi is contesting from the same constituency as an Independent candidate. Mr. Singh had won from Mokama constituency in 2015 from jail. He had won from the same constituency in 2005 and 2010 as JD(U) candidate.
The BJP had on Tuesday announced a list of 27 candidates for the first phase of poll, including 16 from the upper caste, three from the Yadav caste and three from EBC. The RJD has announced 41 candidates, mostly from the Yadav caste. The Congress announced 21 names, giving the highest number, 14, to the upper castes, four to SC, two to the Backward Class and one to the Muslim community.
BJP leaders join LJP
Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders Rameshwar Chourasia and Usha Vidyarthi joined the Lok Janshakti Party on Wednesday, triggering speculations that the LJP is contesting the upcoming poll as a “proxy” for the BJP.
Earlier, State BJP vice-president and former senior RSS functionary Rajendra Singh too joined the LJP and is set to contest from Dinara constituency against JD(U) candidate and Minister in the Nitish Kumar Cabinet Jai Kumar Singh. LJP sources told The Hindu that many more BJP leaders were in touch with the party. “We will form BJP-LJP government in Bihar…just wait some more days,” said an LJP leader over phone from Delhi.