The Grand Alliance of the RJD, JD(U) and Congress on Saturday announced its seat-sharing plan for 243 assembly constituencies under which the ruling JD(U) has retained maximum seats while the RJD and Congress have secured seats mostly considered the strongholds of the NDA.
The alliance also closed the options of striking a deal with the Shibu Soren-led JMM and other parties by sharing the three extra seats earmarked for estranged ally NCP among themselves.
Under the new agreement, the JD(U) and RJD will contest 101 seats each while the Congress will contest 41 seats.
While alliance leaders, including JD(U) state president Basistha Narayan Singh and RJD state president Ram Chandra Purbe called the seat identification process ‘smooth’, a close look at the list shows that the RJD and JD(U) have swapped over a dozen seats.
Some of the seats exchanged include Mahua and Raghopur which were held by the JD(U). Both the seats have gone to the RJD to pave way for Lalu’s sons — Tej Pratap and Tejaswi Yadav — to make their electoral debut.
The move triggered dissension and Raghopur’s sitting JD(U) MLA Satish Kumar left his parent party to join the BJP on Saturday.
It appears that the JD(U) has retained 99 sitting seats as against its tally of 118 seats of 2010, leaving 19 seats to the RJD and Congress which include mostly those constituencies that are held by rebel MLAs who had crossed over to the ruling party after a split in the RJD.
The RJD’s list shows that it has landed maximum seats in areas where the BJP had won in alliance with the JD(U) in the 2010 assembly polls.
Most of the seats in the Kosi region have been retained by the JD(U), possibly because there is a chance the party may do better than the RJD in EBC stronghold seats.
The JD(U) has retained its seats in Samastipur, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Nalanda (CM Nitish Kumar’s home turf), sources said.
On its part, the Congress has managed to get five sitting seats won by the national party in the 2010 assembly and 2014 by-election. Remaining 35 seats include some Congress old pockets which have a fair upper caste, Dalit and Muslim electorate.
The party also got two seats in the Patna urban area in BJP strongholds like Bankipore and Kumhrar where it has not done well in decades.