BJP president Amit Shah with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son, Chirag Paswan, at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)
BJP president Amit Shah with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son, Chirag Paswan, at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

NDA’s Bihar seat-share deal: BJP, JD(U) to contest 17 seats each, LJP gets 6 in 2019 Lok Sabha elections

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) will contest on 17 seats each out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party will contest on 6 seats in the state.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 29, 2018 12:37 AM IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (United) will contest 17 seats each in Bihar in next year’s Lok Sabha elections, leaving the remaining six for Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) announced on Sunday, allaying apprehensions of unease in the ruling coalition after the desertion of Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP).

Union minister Paswan will not contest the Lok Sabha polls, due in April-May, and will get a nomination in the Rajya Sabha at the earliest opportunity.

“We will win more than the 31 seats that we clinched in the 2014 elections,” BJP president Amit Shah told a press conference attended by Kumar and Paswan in Delhi.

Shah was referring to the combined NDA tally in Bihar five years ago, when the RLSP was a part of the alliance and the JD(U) fought the elections independently. After an hour-long meeting with the allies, Shah said the three parties will soon identify the seats they will contest and make an announcement. Bihar sends 40 parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha.

The BJP contested 30 seats and won 22 in 2014, and the new deal meant that it will fight fewer seats than it bagged five years ago to make way for Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).

The LJP won six of the seven seats it contested and the RLSP, which is now a part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), bagged all three seats that it fought.

The agreement is a victory of sorts for the JD(U), which has two members in the Lok Sabha but wanted to contest the same number of seats as the BJP.

Watch: Lok Sabha Elections 2019: BJP, JD(U) will fight at 17, & LJP at 6 seats in Bihar

In 2013, Kumar walked out of the NDA and joined hands with arch-rival Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress two years later.vh The alliance swept the Bihar assembly elections in 2015, but it suffered a big blow after Kumar returned to the NDA last year.

“We will form a government under [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi,” Paswan said in the Capital, stressing that there was no strain in the alliance. He also thanked finance minister Arun Jaitley, who played a key role in sealing the deal with the BJP.

Chirag, his son and a Lok Sabha member, triggered a flutter last week, asking the Centre’s ruling BJP to treat allies “with respect”. He appeared displeased that a seat-sharing formula was not agreed upon despite several rounds of talks. His party also asked the BJP to announce a deal by December 31.

As the NDA put up a united front in Delhi, Bihar CM Kumar said, “We will jointly campaign and form the government at the Centre.”

He added that the decision to send Paswan, a nine-time Lok Sabha MP, to the Upper House was a recognition of his long service to the nation.

In Patna, JD(U) spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan said Paswan’s continuation in the NDA will give the alliance a psychological edge.

“More than the agreement, the very fact that the LJP will be in the NDA will now nullify the advantage the grand alliance was expecting [in case of Paswan’s desertion],” he said.

But the opposition targeted the BJP for agreeing to contest just 17 seats. On Twitter, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said the deal proved the NDA was in a bad shape in the state.

Kushwaha, who is now an ally of Tejashwi, said, “As far as Ram Vilas Paswan is concerned, he foresees the weather. The NDA is not going to win a single seat in Bihar. He knows it. That is why he did the right thing by asking for a Rajya Sabha berth.”

Political expert Saibal Gupta said the deal, for now, will help in the consolidation of the NDA, especially after Chirag struck a discordant note and Kushwaha severed ties with the coalition over apprehensions of getting a raw deal.

“And once consolidation starts, the alliance will be strengthened,” said Gupta, a member-secretary of the Asian Development Research Institute in Patna.

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