New Delhi, News24 Bureau, Oct 23: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) have struck a seat-sharing deal in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.The agreement was reached in September and will be formally announced soon.
The two National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties were waiting for a nod from other smaller partners, including Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).According to a report by NDTV, BJP will contest 17 parliamentary seats while the JD(U) would contest 16 seats in the state. LJP may end up getting 5 and RLSP 2 seats respectively to contest. Bihar has a total of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies.
There were reports of a rift between the two earlierThere were reports of a rift between JD-U and BJP over the seat sharing issue and JD-U was in no mood to bow down. Seeing the sensitivity of the issue, BJP President Amit Shah had visited Bihar. This was Shah's first visit to the state since the dramatic political realignment of last year when Kumar, the JD(U) national president, walked out of the Grand Alliance which included the RJD and Congress, and returned to the NDA.The chief minister met the BJP chief, who was on a day-long tour of the city, at the state guest house where the two had breakfast together, along with a number of senior BJP leaders.
They spent close to 45 minutes chatting about various issues which included, understandably, the next Lok Sabha polls which are less than a year away.Kumar arrived at the guest house within minutes of Shah having reached there from the airport. He was received warmly at the gate by BJP national general secretary in-charge for Bihar, Bhupendra Yadav who escorted Kumar to the room where Shah was putting up.In the company of Shah, Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and state BJP chief Nityanand Rai, the usually reserved Kumar posed smilingly for photographers eager to capture the politically crucial moments.As the breakfast meeting ended, Shah besides other party heavyweights --Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Radha Mohan Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav-- accompanied the chief minister to the porch to see him off.Though Kumar did not entertain any question from the curious media persons, he was seen coming out smiling from the state guest house to further affirm the bonhomie among the alliance partners.After snapping over a decade-long ties with the BJP in 2013, Kumar returned to the NDA fold last year. The JD(U) had performed dismally in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when it won only two seats. However, in the assembly elections that were held the following year, it won 71 seats, more than the combined tally of all the other NDA constituents.Of late, a number of JD(U) spokesmen had come up with statements like Kumar being the face of NDA in Bihar and the party being the 'elder brother' in the coalition, signalling that the party supremo may insist on having the lion's share in the next Lok Sabha polls.Speculations about the JD(U) chief mooting an exit from the NDA had also arisen in the wake of his telephone call to arch rival RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, with whom he had a short-lived but electorally successful alliance after the debacle of 2014.The speculations were further intensified as the Congress, the RJD's ally in the state, hinted that the party could consider taking Kumar back into the Grand Alliance if he breaks away from the BJP.But Kumar put paid to all such speculations when he denied any rift between the JD(U) and the BJP and clarified that he had called up Prasad only to enquire about the RJD supremo's health who was at that time recuperating at a Mumbai hospital after a fistula surgery.