Seat arithmetic among NDA allies in Bihar needs a relook post JD(U) entry

The appointment of two of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s detractors - Samrat Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Sinha - as deputy Chief Ministers and the ferrying of Chirag Paswan in a special aircraft from Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony, indicates that the BJP will push for concessions from the JD(U) to balance the equations 

January 29, 2024 09:36 pm | Updated January 30, 2024 07:09 am IST - New Delhi 

Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar is during the swearing-in ceremony in Patna.

Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar is during the swearing-in ceremony in Patna. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Janata Dal (United)’s re-entry into the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar changes the equations in the BJP-led front with smaller parties like Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) expected to get fewer seats out of the total 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in the upcoming general election. 

In 2019, the BJP and JD(U) had fought on 17 seats each and six were allotted to the LJP. However, this time, with Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal (RLJD) and two factions of the LJP in the mix, the allies could feel the squeeze. 

Allies who had been part of the NDA before Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar performed his fifth somersault have been assured by BJP president J.P. Nadda that commitments made to them will be honoured.

According to the sources, before agreeing to participate in Mr. Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, Mr. Paswan who flew in with Mr. Nadda from Delhi to Patna, insisted that the BJP give him a clear assurance that his faction of LJP will be given all six seats that the party contested in the 2019 election. He had also sought to reserve the Hajipur Lok Sabha constituency for himself. The BJP though will have to balance Mr. Paswan and the breakaway faction headed by his uncle and Union Minister Pashupati Nath Paras. 

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Paswan, whose politics in the last five years has been centred on confrontation with Mr. Kumar, said that he is happy that the NDA government is in power and expressed hope that the vision of the allies will also be incorporated in the government’s policy. “In 2019 too, we had JD(U) on board and we managed to amicably fix the seat-sharing formula between us. The conversation on the division of seats has started on a positive note and I believe it will be finalised soon,” Mr. Paswan said. However, he sounded a word of caution, saying if Mr. Kumar continues to pursue the “policies” that he was critical of under the new government, then he will not be reluctant to speak out. 

Also read: Nitish Kumar expert in betrayal; return to NDA fold was expected: JMM

According to senior sources in the BJP, the party has said that Mr. Kushwaha’s RLJD will be given three Lok Sabha seats, the same as in 2014, when Mr. Kushwaha as president of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party had been an NDA ally and was also Union Minister for a while. 

The HAM has already been accommodated at the State level with Mr. Manjhi’s son Santosh Suman Manjhi being made Minister in the NDA-led government in Bihar. “Another Ministry may be offered to the party and perhaps one Lok Sabha ticket as well,” said the source.  

The appointment of two of Mr. Kumar’s detractors - Samrat Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Sinha as deputy Chief Ministers, read along with ferrying of Mr. Paswan in a special aircraft from Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony, indicates that the BJP will push for concessions from the JD(U) to balance the equations. 

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