NDA leaders mull seat sharing in poll-bound Bihar

Opposition mahagathbandhan-led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal are yet to set off the process

July 02, 2020 07:53 pm | Updated 08:28 pm IST - Patna:

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi with newly elected MLCs of NDA after their oath-taking ceremony, during Unlock 2.0, in Patna, Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi with newly elected MLCs of NDA after their oath-taking ceremony, during Unlock 2.0, in Patna, Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

With Assembly elections just months away, leaders of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar have begun meeting with each other to mull over seat sharing and other political issues. Top NDA leaders met on Wednesday while the Opposition mahagathbandhan (grand alliance)-led by Rashtriya Janata Dal are yet to set off the process.

The Bihar in-charge of BJP Bhupendra Yadav, State party president Sanjay Jaiswal and senior State party leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, met the Chief Minister and ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Nitish Kumar for over an hour on Wednesday, and if JD(U) sources are to be believed, they primarily discussed the tentative number of seats to be distributed among NDA alliance partners. Bihar has a total of 243 Assembly seats and the buzz in the political circles of the State has been that both the JD(U) and the BJP would like to contest in 101 seats each while leaving 41 seats for their third partner, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). “It may be 105 for both BJP and JD(U), and the remaining 33 for the LJP,” said a senior party leader while asserting that “the JD(U) will not contest on a less number of seats than the BJP”.

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

Virtual campaigning

Meanwhile, all the three partners of the NDA in Bihar — the BJP, the JD(U) and the LJP have also begun the process of virtual campaigning and digitally addressing their party workers and leaders. “In this difficult time of COVID-19, virtual campaign and digital address of party leaders and workers are the only viable option before political parties,” said a State BJP leader. When asked what transpired in the Wednesday meeting between the top leadership of both the political alliance partners, he said, “What else could they discuss except seat-sharing when the poll is just months away? It can be anybody’s guess.” Assembly elections in Bihar are scheduled to be held in October-November later this year.

Also read |Face of the 'mahagatbandhan' will be decided by consensus by allies: Congress in-charge for Bihar

LJP-JD(U) rift?

However, all seems to be not well in the NDA as an apparent rift between the LJP and the JD(U) has come up over seat distribution for the 12 legislative council seats to be filled from the Governor’s quota. Party sources told The Hindu that LJP president Chirag Paswan has conveyed to BJP leaders that two seats out of 12 must go for the LJP. But the buzz is that the JD(U) has claimed seven seats while leaving five for the alliance partner, the BJP.

Chirag Paswan has also been taking on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over issues of migrant workers returning to Bihar during the lockdown. Causing embarrassment to CM Nitish Kumar, the LJP leader had also said recently that his party would support the BJP “even if it changes the leadership or goes with the leadership of Nitish Kumar”. Earlier, the BJP had announced that the chief ministerial face of the NDA in the Bihar election would be Nitish Kumar.

JD(U) unrelenting

Political analysts in the State said that in the upcoming Assembly election, the LJP may have to bargain for seats from the BJP quota as the JD(U) appeared in no mood to relent. “Before meeting with the Chief Minister on Wednesday, the BJP’s Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav had held a meeting with LJP leader Chirag Paswan in Delhi and he may have tried to make peace between the two leaders,” political analyst Ajay Kumar told The Hindu .

On other hand, the Opposition mahagathbandhan leaders are yet to begin the process of meeting each other over seat sharing. Grand alliance partner Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Jitan Ram Manjhi had expressed his reservation several times on the issue that the principal Opposition party, the RJD, has not been meeting with them or forming a coordination committee to discuss the seat sharing arrangement for the upcoming poll.

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