After Kishor’s statement, BJP leaders say remark premature

The BJP leaders have maintained that both allies should contest on an equal number of seats.
Prashant Kishor’s comments have started a fresh round of war of words between JD(U) (PTI FILE)
Prashant Kishor’s comments have started a fresh round of war of words between JD(U) (PTI FILE)
Updated on Dec 31, 2019 03:48 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Patna | By

The seat sharing formula between the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party proposed by JD(U) leader and poll strategist Prashant Kishor ahead of the 2020 Bihar assembly elections has sparked a fresh controversy.

The BJP leaders have maintained that both allies should contest on an equal number of seats.

“There was no formula for 2005 and 2010 assembly polls, what is the use of this right now? It is premature formula. Both the parties should only look at winnability factor,” said a senior BJP leader, who has been a part of the talks between the two parties since 2005, on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Gopal Narayan Singh called Kishor’s statement “confusing” and “unsuitable”. “Every next step is decided as per the latest situation and rules,” Singh said, referring to the equal number of seats fought by the two parties in the last general elections.

The party’s Patliputra MP Ram Kripal Yadav said a call on the seat sharing formula will be taken by the party leadership and party president will respond to Kishor’s statement at an appropriate time.

Kishore, on Sunday, told a TV channel that seat-sharing talks could be held on the basis of “1:1.4 ratio” as per the formula followed in 2009 when the BJP and JD(U) fought the elections in alliance.

“The talks between the JD(U) and the BJP for division of seats for the Assembly polls next year could be held on the basis of the 1:1.4 ratio, while it is possible for it to be even 1:1.35 or 1:1.3, it cannot be 1:1, since the JD(U) is the bigger party in Bihar and the elections will be fought with chief minister Nitish Kumar as the face of the alliance. Therefore the basis of the discussion could be around 1:1.4 ratio and thereabouts only,” Kishor had said.

The JD(U) leaders have supported the move. “Where is the doubt that Nitish Kumar is not a big leader? If somebody has floated an idea (about the seat sharing formula), we welcome this although it will be decided later,” said JD(U) minister Shyam Rajak.

Barring the 2015 assembly election, the JD(U) and BJP have contested all elections in an alliance. In 2005, the BJP contested on 102 seats and won on 55, while the JD(U) contested on 139 and won 88 seats in the 243 member Bihar assembly.

Both the BJP and the JD(U) won 91 and 115 seats, respectively, after contesting on 102 and 141 seats in 2010.

The JD(U) had parted ways with the BJP, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and joined the grand alliance with Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). It had won 71 of the 101 seats in the 2015 elections, while the BJP’s tally was reduced to 53 seats.

The BJP won on all 17 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections, giving them a clear edge on about 100 assembly seats, while the JD(U) which rejoined the NDA in 2017, won on 16 seats.

“The BJP should at least contest 101 to 102 seats,” said a BJP leader, on condition of anonymity.

According to poll experts, the Jharkhand results and the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens, have prompted the JD(U) to use pressure tactics. “The bargaining has started. The JD (U) is using Kishor to drive home their point as it was he who was instrumental in opposing the support extended to the NRC,” said DM Diwakar, political expert from A N Sinha Institute for Social Studies.

A BJP leader said that the party sacrificed five seats in Lok Sabha polls. “We had 22 MPs and came to the second position on seven more seats so our claim was to be on 29 seats but we gave them an equal number of seats. Why should not that formula be implemented in the next election?” he asked.


    Vijay is chief of bureau, Patna. He has spent 21 years in journalism and covers political beats and public affairs.

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