BJP’s 1st response to ally JDU’s 50-50 formula for Bihar council seats is a ‘No’
Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal said 13 of the 24 vacant seats in the Bihar Legislative Council were with the BJP, an oblique counter to the demand from chief minister Nitish Kumar’s party that the BJP and JDU should both contest 12 seats each
PATNA: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reluctant to accept a new demand from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) (JDU) to extend the 50-50 agreement reached between the two parties for the 2020 Bihar assembly elections to the Bihar Legislative Council polls expected to be notified soon.
There are 24 vacant seats in the legislative council.
BJP leaders said the party is not going to accept this demand, and the BJP, as one party leader put it, “has almost rejected it.”
Upendra Kushwaha, chairman of JDU’s parliamentary board and former union minister floated the 50-50 demand on Tuesday, insisting that there was no reason to digress from the formula sealed during the assembly elections.
“The JDU and its bigger partner in any alliance always shared the seats under the 50:50 ratio formula from the 2015 assembly elections, including in 2019 parliamentary and 2020 assembly elections. So, we expect that same formula will be followed this time as well,” Kushwaha said on Tuesday.
As part of the 50-50 deal in 2020, the JD (U) got 122 seats and the BJP 121 as part of the arrangement. The two alliance partners adjusted former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Vikassheel Insaan Party(VIP) from their respective quota of seats.
Kushwaha also batted for other alliance partners in Bihar’s ruling coalition and demanded that smaller constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) -VIP and HAM - should also get a slice of the legislative council seats.
Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal suggested that a decision on the number of seats to be contested will be taken in Delhi, and indicated why the JDU formula was unlikely to be acceptable.
“First and foremost, the BJP central parliamentary committee will take a call on how many seats will be contested by us. Secondly, and most importantly, of the 24 seats falling vacant, 13 were of the BJP,” said Sanjay Jaiswal.
Deputy chief minister Tarkishore Prasad was dismissive of JDU leader Kushwaha’s statement. He said Upendra Kushwaha’s statement has no significance. “The top leadership will decide and fix the electoral formula, on how many seats the candidates are to be fielded,” Prasad said.
A senior BJP leader familiar with the developments said that the BJP will contest on 13 seats, leaving 11 for the JD (U). “The party is unlikely to adjust other allies HAM-S and the VIP,” the BJP leader added.
The HAM-S and the VIP, which have been keeping the NDA government in state on the tenterhooks, have sought two and four council seats each, respectively.
“We will re-think our strategy if our demands are not met,” said HAM-S spokesperson Danish Rizwan.
The VIP, which has already upset ally BJP over its announcement to contest the Uttar Pradesh elections, signalled that it didn’t intend to sit tight if the BJP doesn’t accommodate them.
“It is up to the BJP to take a call on it. There is no pressure. If we are not adjusted, we might contest on all 24 seats,” said VIP leader and state minister Mukesh Sahni on his party’s demand to be given four council seats.