Chinks appear in BJP, JD(U) in Bihar over Rajya Sabha seat

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | New Delhi, Feb 20 | Updated: Feb 21 2008, 04:15am hrs
There appear to be serious differences between the ruling coalition partners BJP and JD(U) over one seat among five to be filled during the April biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar.

Though, the ruling coalition is set to grab two seats from the opposition RJD by reducing it to one, the BJP is demanding one additional seat from the state in lieu of party's decision to transfer it free votes to JD(U) nominee Mahendra Prasad in the last elections.

Of the total strength of 16 members to the Upper House from the state, five are retiring in April and as per parties' respective strengths, JD(U) is set to return with three, where BJP and RJD on their own strength can return one each only.

In 2006, out of six vacancies JD(U) had only two seats of its own, but could manage the third one with BJP support and a section of party contended that "now the time has come to pay back and JD(U) should oblige by transferring surplus votes to BJP". Ruing party's 2006 decision, sources in the Bihar unit of BJP contended that till now JD(U) had not shown any indication of fulfilling its promise.

Among the members who are retiring this April include Union minister Prem Chand Gupta, Mangani Lal Mandal, Ram Deo Bhandaray (RJD), Shatrughan Sinha (BJP) and Bashistha Narain Singh JD(U).

Interestingly, there is no problem in RJD over selection of candidate, as the party is set to send only one and since Gupta is a minister, sources in the party confirmed that he would be repeated.

In case of BJP, since Sinha has served his full two terms as the party nominee, hopefully he will not be fielded for third term and in his place, former Union minister CP Thakur's name, who is a formidable Bhumihar leader in the state, is being considered seriously.

Since the BJP is pressing for a second seat and if JD(U) concedes, hopefully Party would like to field a Rajput or a Brahmin, keeping in mind the party's popularity among the forward castes in the state.