Sunday 25 October 2020

BJP keeps ‘121’, gives JD(U) 1 more in NDA seat-sharing for Bihar

The actual number of seats that the BJP will contest on is less than 121, as it has to accommodate a new entrant, VIP; how many seats 'rebel' LJP will get is unknown

Following hectic parleys among NDA constituents over the seat-sharing formula for the October-November Bihar assembly election, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said the JD(U) would contest for 122 seats and BJP for 121 in the 243-member Vidhan Sabha. In the 2010 Assembly elections, the JD(U) and BJP had contested on 141 and 102 seats respectively while the two parties were pitted against each other in 2015.

“JD(U) has got 122 seats. The BJP has 121. It will accommodate Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), the new entrant in the NDA. Under that quota, we are giving 7 seats to the HAM,” Kumar said at a press conference that was preceded by a lot of drama. The incumbent chief minister reportedly arrived at the presser after the BJP issued a statement, saying its alliance with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in Bihar was “unbreakable”.

The day before yesterday, the LJP had announced its exit from the alliance for the state polls. It had claimed that the next Bihar government would be a “BJP-LJP government”.

“There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar is our leader in Bihar. LJP is our ally at the Centre,” state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal said at a media centre set up by the party at a city hotel before the press conference. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi echoed the sentiment separately.

Responding to a query about the post-poll scenario, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, said, “We have said unequivocally that Nitish Kumar will be our Chief Minister. It does not matter which party gets how many seats in the elections”.

Nitish Kumar underscored the fact that Ram Vilas Paswan had become a Rajya Sabha MP with help from the JD(U). “Ram Vilas Paswan is unwell. We want him to recover. Did he reach Rajya Sabha without JDU’s help? How many seats do they have in Bihar Vidhan Sabha? Two. So, BJP-JD(U) gave him a nomination to the RS,” the Bihar chief minister said.

Without naming Chirag Paswan, Nitish took a dig at the LJP chief, saying, “I believe in doing my job. If some people derive pleasure out of saying something inconsequential, they are most welcome to do so. It does not bother me”.

On 4 October, LJP chief Chirag Paswan had cited “ideological differences with JD(U)” to announce its exit from the alliance for the state polls while reiterating that it would continue with the NDA at the Centre. The party said it would field candidates against the JD(U) but not the BJP for the state polls.

The move came after its relationship with the JD(U) nosedived over the last few months, with the party taking potshots at the Bihar government over its handling of Covid and the migrant crisis that followed the lockdown.

The no-longer ‘Maha’ gathbandhan had announced their seat-sharing formula last week, with RJD contesting on 144 seats and Congress on 70. The three Left parties will fight from 29 constituencies: CPI(ML) from 19 seats, and the CPI and CPI(M) six and four seats, respectively.

Bihar will go to polls in three phases — 28 October, 3 and 7 November. Results will be declared on 10 November.

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