Paswan crisis over, BJP clinches deal on Bihar seats. Announcement tomorrow
The BJP is reported to have agreed to throw in a seventh seat, a Rajya Sabha seat for the senior Paswan, who is Union minister for food distribution.Updated: Dec 21, 2018 21:54 IST
The negotiations between Bihar politician Ram Vilas Paswan’s party and the BJP, which started with a warning shot fired by Paswan’s son Chirag on Twitter, appear to have come to an early end this evening after a meeting anchored by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The pact is expected be made public only tomorrow but according to the broad contours of the formula that has been accepted by both sides, sources said, Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party is open to contest five seats in Bihar and one in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh or or Jharkhand.
The BJP is reported to have agreed to throw in a seventh seat, a Rajya Sabha seat for the senior Paswan, who is Union minister for food distribution. Ram Vilas Paswan, 72, does not intend to contest next year’s general election and has been looking for a Rajya Sabha seat for himself. He is currently a nine-term Lok Sabha member.
Bihar sends 40 members to the Lok Sabha. In the 2014 elections, Paswan’s party had been allocated seven seats by the NDA; it won six of them and had started talks demanding that it shouldn’t have to fight on fewer seats than last time.
BJP’s Amit Shah and the third partner in the NDA in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s, have already agreed to split the Bihar seats in an equal number. The two parties were speculated to be looking at contesting 17 seats each, leaving six to be shared between Paswan’s party and Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party who has since jumped over to the rival camp.
Chirag Paswan, 35, did not talk about the pact with the BJP after his meeting with Jaitley.
But Ram Vilas Paswan’s younger brother, Ramchandra Paswan, hinted they were on the right track. “We are still with the BJP.... We shall announce a seat sharing formula with the BJP,” he said.
But an arrangement that gives five seats in Bihar to ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP leaves 35 seats for the other two NDA partners, the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United). If the BJP and the JD (U) contest 17 seats each, it is not clear who would be fielded from the one extra seat that the BJP has ended up with.
Sources suggest that there was a possibility that this seat could go to Mukesh Sahni, a 38-year-old former bollywood set designer who launched an outfit of his own, Vikasheel Insaan Party, last month and intends to contest the election from Muzaffarpur seat, currently held by the BJP. Sahni - known as son of mallah (boatman) - comes from a backward community and could help neutralise some of the adverse impact of Upendra Kushwaha exiting the NDA within this community.