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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

BJP, JDU to contest equal number of seats for Lok Sabha polls, confirm Amit Shah, Nitish Kumar

The announcement was made after BJP chief Amit Shah’s meeting with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday.

india Updated: Oct 26, 2018 22:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP National President Amit Shah with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar
BJP National President Amit Shah with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (HT File Photo)

Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and the BJP will fight on an equal number of seats in Bihar for the Lok Sabha Elections next year, BJP chief Amit Shah said after meeting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday.

The two leaders addressed reporters together after their meeting. “Other allies will also get a respectable seat share,” Shah announced but made it clear that they will have to settle for fewer seats than the 2014 elections.

“When a new partner joins, you have to sacrifice... There will be reduction in seats for everyone,” Shah said, and underscored that there was consensus among the four NDA partners in Bihar on this principle. He said the number of seats that would be contested by each alliance partner would be announced in two or three days.

Nitish Kumar, who had last month asserted that his party will contest the election with “pride and honour” said, “We have had talks... and as Amit Shah announced, there is an agreement on this... JD (U) and BJP will fight same number of seats.”

Bihar sends 40 members to the Lok Sabha that will need to be split between the four partners of the NDA for next year’s general elections. Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party are the two other allies.

Soon after Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar held their press conference, Upendra Kushwaha, who is a minister at the Centre, met Tejashwi Yadav of Bihar’s main opposition party the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) at a circuit house in the state’s Arwal for about 15 minutes. Kushwaha described it as a “chance meeting,” but an RJD leader said they were happy to welcome the RLSP leader “with open arms.”

Another RJD leader said Chirag Paswan, Ram Vilas Paswan’s son spoke to Tejashwi, who is the son of RJD chief Lalu Yadav, in jail in a corruption case. The Paswans’ LJP has however denied this.

The JD (U) and the BJP, allies for many years, had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections separately; Nitish Kumar’s party could win only two Lok Sabha seats. The other three NDA allies had won 31of the 40 seats in that election, with the BJP alone winning 22.

Before his return to the NDA last year, Nitish Kumar experimented with a Grand Alliance for the 2015 assembly elections in Bihar, joining hands with arch rival Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Together they stormed to power, winning 178 of the state’s 243 assembly seats. The RJD is the state’s largest party with 81 seats, while the JD (U) has 70 seats.

The BJP, dumped temporarily by Nitish Kumar, could win only 53 seats.

Nitish Kumar broke away from the grand alliance in July 2017, saying he could not continue to work with Lalu Yadav because of corruption charges against his son Tejashwi Yadav. Within hours he was reunited with the BJP.

His party’s comment earlier this year that the JD (U), by virtue of its larger share in the Bihar, was the alliance’s “big brother” was seen as a signal to the BJP that he expected to be treated as the senior partner in Bihar, a position the JD (U) held for the many years that the two parties were allies before the 2013 break-up.

The last time they contested an election as partners, in 2009, the JD (U) had won 20 seats while the BJP had contested 12.

First Published: Oct 26, 2018 18:07 IST