Other States

In poll-bound Bihar, parties vie for more seats, explore new formations

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

With the Election Commission asserting that the Assembly elections in Bihar would be held on time, political parties are now putting pressure for more seats and exploring new formations to suit their electoral prospects. The Assembly elections are due in October-November later this year.

Also read | Also read: Bihar Assembly elections | All is well in Mahagathbandhan, says RJD leader Manoj Jha

Opposition parties and the ruling National Democratic Alliance partner, the Lok Janshakti Party, have long been demanding that polls be deferred due to the spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and floods, which have inundated 16 districts of northeast Bihar. Only the ruling Janata Dal (United) has been in favour of the elections to be held on time. Even its ally BJP too has been keeping mum on the issue, saying “holding elections is the Election Commission’s prerogative.” However, some Bihar BJP leaders too are said to be not in favour of polls. They say that in such difficult times, only Yadav and Muslim voters will come out to cast votes and “we all know for which party that would go.”

“Do you think our voters will come out to reach polling booth braving coronavirus and the flood?” asked a senior State BJP leader, requesting anonymity.

LJP’s demand

The LJP’s repeated demand for the deferment of elections and its consistent attack on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar widened rift between the NDA partners in Bihar, as Opposition Congress leader Rajesh Rathor on Wednesday took a swipe on it saying, “[LJP president] Chirag Paswan is acting on behalf of the BJP against Nitish Kumar.”

Senior JD(U) leader Rajeev Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh slammed Mr. Paswan and termed him “Kalidas.” “He is cutting the branch of the tree he sits on … it’s good that he is playing the role of an opposition but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hardly takes notice of any such thing as he keeps doing his work,” said Mr. Singh.

 

Earlier, senior JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi too had said, “We don’t have any alliance with the LJP in Bihar … our experience of working with them [LJP] is zero … our perfect understanding is with the BJP, be it seat-sharing, campaigning or leadership.”

However, NDA sources told The Hindu that the reason for the rift between the LJP and the JD(U) was the seat-sharing between the three NDA alliance partners for the Assembly polls. The JD(U) wants to contest in not less than 120 seats and the BJP not less than in 102 seats, leaving only 21 seats for the LJP in the total 243 seats. But the LJP is said to be not ready to contest in less than 36 seats, claiming that it has six MPs and each Lok Sabha constituency constitutes at least six Assembly segments.

Employment for migrants should be NDA’s top priority in Bihar: Chirag Paswan

“Ahead of polls, parties, particularly smaller ones, explore better political options to contest more and more seats … its not only LJP but the Mahagathbandhan alliance partners, the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and the Vikasheel Insaan Party too will vie for more number of seats or explore their political options,” political analyst Ajay Kumar told The Hindu.

Congress’s claim

Meanwhile, senior State Congress leader Sadanand Singh said his party would contest in 80 seats, which triggered murmuring among the Mahagathbandhan allies. But on Wednesday, State party in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil did the damage control, saying, “in Mahagathbandhan which party will contest in how many seats will only be decided after consultations with alliance partners at appropriate time…now don’t put attention on rumours.”

Also read | 19 doctors died of COVID-19 in Bihar, 250 infected: IMA

However, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM(S) has been creating uncomfortable situation for the Mahagathbandhan by repeatedly demanding formation of a coordination committee for the distribution of seats but his demand has not been met so far. The buzz in political corridor, though, is that Mr. Manjhi may switch his political loyalty to the NDA, while the LJP could come to the Mahagathbandhan fold. “Though signs are there, it is still too early to say anything on this,” said Mr. Ajay Kumar.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 3:53:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-poll-bound-bihar-parties-vie-for-more-seats-explore-new-formations/article32338323.ece

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