NDA’s (National Defence Academy) seat-sharing crisis: Nitish explores all options
Sunday, 07 October 2018 | Hari Shankar Vyas | in Agenda –
The crisis in Bihar NDA is showing no signs of abating. Two weeks ago, Nitish Kumar had said that the seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP was final and would be announced soon. The State President of JDU, Vashishtha Narayan Singh, and party leader in the Rajya Sabha, RCP Singh, had also said in a press conference that the JDU would continue in the NDA with respectable seats in its kitty.
Now the question is what are the respective seats and when will an announcement be made? Interestingly, there are many reports surrounding the number of ‘respectable’ seats. The BJP sources say the party can’t give more than 12 seats to the JDU. If the RLSP leaves the NDA (National Defence Academy), its two seats could be divided among the BJP and JDU. That means in a very favorable situation, the JDU will get maximum of 13 seats.
However, many BJP leaders are saying that the seat proposal is merely a strategy to keep the JDU occupied. The BJP doesn’t want any alliance break-up in Bihar as it might have a detrimental effect on the Assembly Elections in five States. That is why it is being said that in the recent meeting, Amit Shah told Nitish that he was busy with the elections of five States, and the seat-sharing formula would be decided after that.
If the BJP fares well in five States, it might take its support back from the JDU in Bihar, and impose President’s rule. At that time, neither the Congress nor the RJD will save the JDU. That is why Nitish is trying to make his move before the BJP strikes, but without success. The Congress and RJD are not ready to agree to his terms and conditions. Nitish is said to be gearing up for a third front too, but that path is also riddled with many hurdles.
SHARAD YADAV’S THIRD FRONT
Former President of the JDU, Sharad Yadav, is not very active in politics. However, he has been busy in giving shape to the Mahagathbandhan against the BJP and is probably also chalking out a third front in Bihar. Some leaders with big political ambitions are planning a third front. Apart from them, if the Left parties don’t get good seats, they might part ways with the RJD-Congress alliance.
The three big parties of the Left Front in Bihar — the CPI, CPM, and CPML — have a base in different areas of the State. While the CPML has a good hold in central Bihar ie Arrah and Bhojpur, the CPI rules the roost in Champaran and Begusarai. Probably Lalu Prasad doesn’t want to leave more than three seats for the three parties, while they need at least five.
Sharad Yadav is well aware of the hold of the Left parties amongst the backward and Dalit vote banks. That is why there is a buzz that he, along with his own party and the Left parties, might form a third front. Interestingly, people are saying that Central Minister Upendra Kushwaha will also join the front. If Kushwaha doesn’t get a respectable seat in the RJD-Congress alliance, he might join the proposed third front and could also become its CM candidate.
NEHRU MEMORIAL PROBLEMS
The first controversy over the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library hasn’t been solved yet and a new one has crept up. Director of the museum, Shakti Sinha, had given a proposal to make it a memorial for all PMs, which the Congress had opposed. Former PM Manmohan Singh had written a letter to PM Narendra Modi, stating that the Nehru Memorial must be saved from any interference. The Congress wants a memorial for all PMs to be made at any other place, but not at the Nehru Memorial. But it seems that the Government is adamant on changing the form of the Nehru Memorial.
The new controversy is over funds of the memorial. The director wants to remove the funds from there, and the Congress is opposing the move. There’s another row over the private documents of Indira Gandhi. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust had sought these documents, but the director refused. Sonia Gandhi, the chairman of the Indira Gandhi Trust, says the documents had been given to the Nehru Memorial for safe-keeping and are not its property. Many private letters of Indira Gandhi are amongst these documents, and the Congress thinks they can be misused.
DEMAND OF THE STATES
Seats of the Assembly in many States might be increased. The State Governments had been pressing for this for long and it is being said that the Central Government is now ready. The Centre has prepared a Cabinet note for this and the committee of ministers is pondering over the proposal. First of all, the seats of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh might be increased. Jharkhand is also demanding the same for long, but right now it seems that its chances are grim. This must be noted that at the time of bifurcation, there was a proposal for increasing seats in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. There were 294 seats in the unified Andhra Pradesh. After bifurcation, Andhra got 175 and 119 seats went to Telangana.
According to the new proposal, 50 seats would be increased in Andhra and the total seats would be 225. In the same manner, Telangana would get 34 more seats and the total seats will be 153. There is the problem, though. Even if Parliament passes the Bill, it can’t be executed immediately. Possibly, it will be implemented on the basis of the 2021 Census, which will be out before 2024. Only then can the seats of the Assembly be increased before the next polls. The leaders of both States are demanding an increase in the number of seats on the basis of previous data.
First, Sharad Pawar supposedly gave a clean chit to Modi in the Rafale deal and tried to puncture the campaign of the Congress, and now he has complicated the politics further. His NCP wants to include the MNS in the alliance, which
is on the cards against the BJP in Maharashtra. The Congress is against this idea. The State Congress leadership says the MNS has a record against non-Marathis; there have been several instances of attack on North Indians in Mumbai by the workers of Raj Thackeray. The Congress is of the view that if the party goes with the MNS, its core vote bank will be disappointed. But the NCP says that the MNS is necessary to unite all anti-BJP forces. The NCP knows that the Congress will not accept the MNS in the alliance, but Sharad Pawar is doing this to build pressure on Rahul Gandhi.
On the other hand, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti — the new partner of the Congress — wants an alliance with Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar. He wants the Congress and NCP to show their magnanimity and include smaller parties in the alliance after giving them respectable seats. This must be noted that Raju Shetti is an MP, and the last time around, he had fought along with the BJP. The Congress might just give in to his demand and include Ambedkar in the alliance.
Central Minister and NDA partner Upendra Kushwaha are still in the NDA, waiting for the JDU to be ousted from the alliance so that he can continue with old equations and formula. He thinks Nitish Kumar might leave the NDA (National Defence Academy) again. One of his close associates says the BJP has signaled to him that the alliance would be the same as it was in 2014. So, Kushwaha’s first choice is the NDA. The leader of his party, Nagmani, said the RLSP should be given more seats than the JDU. He argues that the Kurmi vote bank — the caste of Nitish — is only 2 percent, while the vote bank of Kushwahas is 6 percent. Clearly, Nagmani’s motive was to put the JDU under pressure.
Kushwaha is also trying to keep the doors open to the RJD-Congress alliance, but he won’t get more than three seats there. He hopes for four or five seats, which seems impossible. So, it is being said that Kushwaha is gearing up for a probable third front, which will project him as the CM candidate. Sharad Yadav’s party and the Left front would also be a part of the front. In this front, the RLSP might get half of the total seats. Read more post…
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