A day after the announcement of the poll schedule, both the Grand Alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal--Janata Dal (United)–Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance grapple with the tricky issue of seat sharing.
The problem seems to be more acute in the saffron brigade with its allies using strong-arm tactics to bag a lion’s share of seats from their bigger partner. In the Grand Alliance, a smooth seat-sharing arrangement — with RJD and JD(U) agreeing to contest 100 seats each and leaving rest 40 seats to the Congress — has kept things in check.
“There is no problem in seat-to-seat identification because we have done the ground work,” said JD(U) minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary.
However, a few glitches still remain. Sources said seat identification process has run into problems over the RJD’s demand for at least a dozen JD(U) sitting seats where Yadavs and Muslims are dominant.
In Nalanda district, the home turf of chief minister Nitish Kumar, all six seats are in JD(U)’s kitty, won by the ruling party as an ally of the BJP in 2010 polls. The Congress too wants a fair number of seats where it had come second in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, including some seats in Seemanchal and West Champaran.
Meanwhile, the NDA, having launched an early poll campaign, seems to be on a sticky wicket over seat-sharing with allies Lok Janshakti Party, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular).
Sources said the BJP’s blueprint of fighting 160 seats and leaving rest 83 seats to its allies, including new partners like rebel MP Rajiv Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav has not worked out in a series of meetings held in New Delhi.
There are fears former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose Dalit vote-base is crucial for the NDA, could walk out of the alliance due to such differences.
Evidently, the inner seat-sharing feud has started troubling both the major combinations and could have an adverse impact on the Bihar polls amid speculations that there could be another round of political churning in coming days.