It makes sense for BJP to concede more seats for its allies in Bihar as the combined vote share of BJP and its NDA partners JD(U) and Lok Jan Shakti Party was more than 50% in the last Lok Sabha election.
NDA seat sharing complete in Bihar: The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has an early advantage over the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in Bihar as it looks battle ready after sealing the seat-sharing agreement. The UPA is still struggling to finalise the seat sharing agreement with leading constituents the Lalu-Yadav-led RJD and the Congress squabbling over the number of seats to be contested by them.
Sharad Pawar led NCP, which is part of UPA at national level, has already announced that it will field Mohammad Shakoor against Tariq Anwar, former NCP leader and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Katihar. Tariq Anwar, who was a founding member of NCP, has quit the party to join alliance partner Congress, creating a rift between the parties. NCP is also not in the Congress-RJD alliance in the state which also has two former NDA allies – Upendra Kushwaha led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi led Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).
The fissures between the two principal players – the Congress and RJD also came to fore when RJD Supremo Lalu Yadav’s son and former deputy chief minister of Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav warned the alliance partners over seat sharing on Saturday.
In contrast, BJP, which has been more assertive with its alliance partners in NDA II, has realised the importance of its allies in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, sometimes by agreeing to contest on less number of seats than the seats won by it in the previous election.
Alliance in Bihar makes sense for BJP
It makes sense for the BJP as the combined vote share of BJP, JD(U) and Lok Jan Shakti Party was more than 50% in the state in 2014 Lok Sabha election. BJP had secured 29.40% vote in Bihar, a jump of over 15% that gave the party victory in 22 seats. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) which had parted ways with BJP in 2013 ahead of national elections, suffered heavy losses and could only win 2 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. However, after fighting 2015 Bihar assembly elections as a part of grand coalition comprising Congress and RJD among others, Nitish Kumar soon realised the difficulties of working with Lalu Yadav and his son Tejashwi Yadav and returned to NDA fold.
BJP under Modi and Amit Shah not only openly embraced him once again but also agreed to fight in just 17 Lok Sabha seats against 22 seats won by the party in 2014. BJP offered 17 seats to its ally JD(U) by cutting its own seat as it suits the party to have Nitish Kumar by its side in the crucial national election when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term for himself.
It also makes sense for the BJP to improve the NDA tally in Bihar as the party is facing a tough fight in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh where it is pitted against SP-BSP-RLD alliance. The combined vote share of SP-BSP was more than the BJP led NDA’s vote share in 41 of total 80 seats in UP in 2014 Lok Sabha election.
BJP leaves 23 seats for alliance partners in Bihar
According to the seat allocation formula announced on Sunday, BJP will contest on Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Muzaffarpur, Arrah, Buxar, East Champaran, West Champaran, Sheohar, Saran, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Ujiarpur, Begusarai, Sasaram, Aurangabad, Maharajganj and Araria.
BJP won 16 of these 17 seats in the last election. RJD had won in Araria seat. The BJP has left six seats won by it to its allies. Five seats – Gaya, Siwan, Valmiki Nagar, Gopalganj and Jhanjharpur – have gone to the JD(U)’s quota and Nawada seat has been given to Lok Jan Shakti Party this time. Giriraj Singh, sitting union minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s close associate, had won from Nawada seat. However, this time Nawada seat has been given to Ram Vilas Paswan’s party which will also fight on Hajipur, Jamui, Vaishali, Samastipur and Khagaria. The LJP had won all five seats in last election.
Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United will contest from Munger, Banka, Supaul, Madhepura, Kishanganj, Sitamarhi, Karakat, Purnia, Nalanda, Jahanabad, Katihar, Bhagalpur and also on five seats (Gaya, Siwan, Balmikinagar, Gopalganj, Jhanjharpur) won by BJP in 2014.