On NDA face in Bihar, JD(U)-LJP lock horns, seek early settlement of seat-sharing issue

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New Delhi | Published: June 5, 2018 5:14:10 PM

JD(U) spokesperson Ajay Alok told PTI that Nitish Kumar's good work will be a key factor when people come out to vote in next year's poll, thereby implying that the party should get the lion's share.

Nitish Kumar, NDA meeting, Janata Dal United, Bihar, BJP, LJP, Bharatiya Janata Party, NDA meeting in patna, Chirag paswan, narendra modiBihar CM Nitish Kumar along with Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, after inaugurating various development schemes of the health department of Bihar state, in Patna, on Monday, 28 May 2018. (PTI Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces an uphill task of keeping all NDA partners in Bihar together going into the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. There is a raging debate in Bihar over seat sharing for the 2019 general elections with all alliance constituents flexing their muscles for a larger share of the 40 Lok Sabha seats. The Janata Dal (United) has reiterated that the alliance should project CM Nitish Kumar as its face in the state. Party spokesperson Ajay Alok told PTI that Nitish’s good work will be a key factor when people come out to vote in next year’s poll, thereby implying that the party should get the lion’s share.

Alok said that while at the national level, the NDA will obviously contest under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is the performance of Nitish that will play a key role in the success of the coalition in Bihar. “He (Modi) is going to be the face of NDA, but when it comes to seeking votes in Bihar, the performance of Nitish Kumar will play a decisive role in the electoral success of the coalition.”

Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is also a partner of the ruling BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Paswan had joined the ranks with the BJP after the JD(U) parted ways from the NDA just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Paswan and Nitish have contested elections against each other everytime. However, after JD(U) returned to the NDA fold last year, the political equation has changed. The RLSP of Upendra Kushwaha is also a part of the NDA.

When the LJP was quizzed about the JD(U) mounting pressure on the BJP to seek votes on the basis of Nitish’s good work, party MP and Parliamentary Board chief Chirag Paswan said that ‘there was no confusion in the ruling alliance with regard to who is going to be the face of the coalition’.

“The next Lok Sabha polls will be contested under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi,” Paswan said. The MP added that it would be better if the BJP, the largest constituent of the NDA, takes an early on call on the seat-sharing matter. “Seat-sharing arrangement is important when a coalition of different parties has to put up a fight and it would be better if a decision in this regard is taken soon.”

Following the NDA’s poor show in the just concluded 14 bypolls including in Jokihat of Araria, the JD(U) has been demanding for better coordination among allies. Party’s national president and CM Nitish Kumar on Sunday chaired a crucial meeting of the core committee to discuss the future strategy. After the meeting, the party asked the BJP to find an early resolution to the seat-sharing issue to avoid bitterness. The party had dropped ample hints that it wants to contest on more seats than the BJP and preferred for retaining the 2009 formula of 25:15.

The remarks from the JD(U) and LJP come just ahead of crucial June 7 meeting of the NDA partners in Patna that BJP president Amit Shah is set to attend. It is expected that the seat-sharing issue will come up for discussion.

Ajay Alok told PTI that the party should be given a respectful share of seats for the next year’s general election. “The party’s only contention is “jiskaa kaam uska daam (the one who performs should get his due).”

Bihar sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the 2009 general elections, the BJP and JD(U) had contested together. While the JD(U) had fielded candidates on 25 seats, the BJP had contested 15 seats. But in 2014, the JD(U) had contested the elections solo and won just two seats whereas the BJP had won 22 seats. The LJP and RLSP had contested the election in alliance with the BJP and won six out of seven and three out of four seats they contested.

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