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BJP & JD(U) to contest on equal number of seats for 2019 in Bihar, Nitish to be face of NDA

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Every partner in the Bihar coalition — BJP, LJP and RLSP — decided to let go of a few seats to give Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) the number it is demanding.

New Delhi: The Janata Dal (United) is to contest in as many seats as the BJP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, marking a major shift in the saffron party’s attitude to one of its more prominent allies.

“It has been decided that the BJP and JD(U) will fight on an equal number of seats for Lok Sabha elections in Bihar,” BJP president Amit Shah said in New Delhi after meeting JD(U) boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “Other allies will also get a respectable seat share. Numbers will be announced in a few days.”

The BJP president also said that Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will remain a part of the NDA coalition in the state.

“When a new ally joins us, there will be a reduction in seat share for everyone,” he said.

The decision marks a major climb-down for the BJP and a boost for the JD(U), which had been demanding an equal number of Lok Sabha seats as that of the BJP throughout the seat-sharing negotiations that had been going on for a few months.

Also read: Strategist to Nitish Kumar’s right-hand man: What makes Prashant Kishor so special

Speculation is now rife that of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the BJP and JD(U) will get 16 each while six may go to the LJP, with the remaining two to the RLSP.

ThePrint has learnt that every partner in the coalition has decided to let go of a few seats to give JD(U) the number it is demanding.

Sources privy to the seat-sharing negotiations said it was decided that since the JD(U) was the principal regional party in the state, it should get a ‘respectable’ number of seats.

“There had been roadblocks as everyone was adamant on the number of seats they would want to contest,” said a highly-placed source. “But it is in the larger good that we all will sacrifice seats. The BJP, being the principal ally, would need to sacrifice more.”

In 2014, the BJP, the LJP and the RLSP had won 31 seats together. The LJP had won in six out of seven seats it had contested while the RLSP had bagged all three it contested. The JD(U) was not part of the coalition and returned to the NDA fold only in July 2017 after breaking up with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.

A BJP climb-down

Friday’s announcement marks a major shift in the BJP’s attitude that had left many of its allies angry with the treatment meted out to them.

In Bihar, trouble had been brewing between the allies, with the JD(U) accusing the BJP of treating it as a junior partner. There was also a feeling that the BJP was undermining the JD(U) by underlining that the party only won two seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi let Nitish Kumar go into the BJP’s waiting arms—and wants him to stay there

The JD(U) on its part had subtly begun sending messages that it held clout in a majority of the seats in Bihar. Even at its national executive in New Delhi, JD(U) leaders claimed that the party had yielded influence on at least 38 of the 40 seats and hence should get more seats in the coalition.

Matters had reached such a head, that the JD(U) was also set to revive its demands for special status for Bihar. It was around the time that the denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh had seen the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) walk out of the NDA.

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  1. Looks like BJP is trying to make amends for his earlier arrogance. BJP only shot in its foot by taking e brother attitude towards its allies. We are compelled to lean towards BJP since we have no decent alternative. We are forced to listen to that imbecile day in and day out. Indeed the people of India are truly unfortunate with no real option.

  2. CM Nitish Kumar has accumulated a lot of baggage. No longer the face of a winner whose laurels are guaranteed.

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