JD(U) harps on senior partner status for seats in Bihar, BJP stays cool
The JD(U), which had broken its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP in 2013, contested the 2014 LS polls on its own and won only two of the 40 seats, as against 22 of the 25 it contested in 2009 in alliance.india Updated: Jun 05, 2018 08:50 IST
The open assertion of the JD(U) that chief minister Nitish Kumar will be the face of the alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state, ahead of the NDA’s June 7 meeting here, has set off speculations over its insistence to have the seat sharing issue, commensurate to its lead party status, settled well in advance.
“Nitish Kumar has been the leader of the NDA in Bihar and JD(U) the senior partner of the coalition. There is nothing unusual or new in the reiteration,” JD(U) spokesman Ajay Alok said on Monday, echoing what two party national general secretaries, KC Tyagi and Pavan Kumar Varma, had said on Sunday after the core committee meeting.
The two leaders had said that the “JD(U) will play the role of big brother in Bihar, just like the BJP does in Delhi.” While they stopped short of pinning it down to seat sharing, it was all too evident that the senior NDA partner in Bihar wanted to keep sight of 25:15 seats from the yesteryears.
Alok, however, said “in changed circumstances, it will require all NDA constituents to sit together and thrash out a seat-sharing arrangement that is acceptable to everyone.”
The JD(U), which had broken its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP in 2013, contested the 2014 LS polls on its own and won only two of the 40 seats, as against 22 of the 25 it contested in 2009 in alliance.
The BJP, which had won 12 of the 15 seats in 2009, swept the 2014 polls, winning 22 while its new alliance partners, LJP and RLSP, romped home with six and three seats, respectively.
Now, with the re-entry into the NDA fold in August last year, the JD(U) is trying to leverage its 2015 assembly performance for the reinstatement of its senior partner status for delivering what Tyagi termed was “aimed at getting full mileage and reaping rich dividends of the image of chief minister for the alliance.”
The state BJP has sought to play down JD(U)’s stance.
Senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who was in Delhi, told reporters that “there is practically no dispute over the fact that Narendra Modi is the face of the NDA in the country while Nitish Kumar is its leader in Bihar.”
“Seat-sharing is not an insurmountable issue when our hearts have united. When the time comes, all of us will sit together and decide,” the BJP leader, who was attending a meeting of state environment ministers, said.
Even the outspoken Union minister Giriraj Singh expressed his surprise over “the attempt to create a controversy.” However, Union minister Ram Kripal Yadav said although he would not comment on seat sharing, the “LS polls would be fought under the leadership of Narendra Modi.”