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BJP meets adamant JD(U)-LJP halfway

Shah, Nitish agree on 17 seats for each in Bihar; Paswan has his way with 6 seats for LS polls

Days after the Lok Janshakti Party served an ultimatum on the BJP to end the logjam over seat-sharing in Bihar, the NDA big brother made a major compromise by agreeing to contest five seats less than they won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Bihar, allotting 17 seats to the Janata Dal(U) and six to the LJP. The BJP will contest 17 of the 40 seats in the State. While the BJP and the JD(U) had already agreed to contest equal number of seats, but till the LJP mounted pressure, there were indication that the BJP wanted the junior partner to agree to contest 4-5 seats only. However, the LJP clinched a good bargain as besides the six seats it will get to contest, party chief Ram Vilas Paswan will also be sent to the Rajya Sabah as a NDA nominee. The present strength of the BJP in Bihar is 22, while the JD(U) has only two member in the Lok Sabha. The LJP had contested seven seats in the 2014 polls and barring one, all its candidates had won. BJP’s decimation in seat arrangements prompted the RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav to take a jibe at the BJP for agreeing to contest only 17 seats in Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls next year despite having won 22 in the last general elections. Addressing a joint Press conference with Paswan and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, BJP president Amit Shah asserted that the NDA will win more than 31 seats it had in 2014 and expressed confidence that it will come back to power in 2019. The deal suggests a victory of sorts for the LJP, which had adopted an aggressive stand seeking a better bargain from the BJP after the exit of Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP from the ruling alliance. Shah said all allies will soon decide on distribution of Lok Sabha constituencies among them for fielding their candidates in 2019. Paswan, whose son Chirag had created a flutter with his comments seen as critical of the BJP and the Central Government, on Sunday claimed there was never a problem in the alliance as he has nurtured the “NDA tree” for five years under Modi’s leadership. A Government under Modi will be formed again, he said. The Dalit leader also thanked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who played a role in brokering peace between his party and the BJP. In his comments, the Bihar Chief Minister, who enjoys good equations with Paswan, noted that the NDA had won 32 of the 40 seats in Bihar in 2009 even though results across the country had gone against it. “This time we will do better than that,” he said. He was a BJP ally in 2009 before parting ways with it in 2013. He joined the NDA again in 2017. Commenting on the decision to send Paswan, presently a Lok Sabha member from Hajipur in Bihar, to the Rajya Sabha, Nitish Kumar said it is a recognition to his long service to the country and also thanked the BJP for the decision. Paswan is a nine-term member of the Lok Sabha and the decision means that the 72-year-old leader is unlikely to contest any more popular election and will be handing over the reins of the party to his son. On his part as leader of the Mahagathbandhan, Tejashwi claimed that the BJP gave in to arm-twisting by Nitish and Paswan. His remark was a reference to Paswan’s son and LJP Parliamentary Board chief Chirag Paswan recently writing to Jaitley and requesting him to elucidate the benefits of demonetisation so that his party could explain the same to its voters. Taking a dig at the BJP, Tejashwi tweeted that despite having achieved power through the back door in Bihar and having 22 sitting MPs, the party agreed to give an equal number of seats to Nitish, who had returned with a tally of only two seats. “Now you can understand the dire straits the NDA is in,” the RJD leader said. Ending its 17-year-old alliance with the NDA, the JD(U) had contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls alone. Following its poor performance, it forged the “mahagathbandhan” with the RJD and the Congress and the alliance achieved a handsome victory in 2015 Bihar Assembly polls. Nitish, who had in the meanwhile taken over as the JD(U) president, walked out of the alliance last year following corruption allegations against Tejashvi, his then deputy. The JD(U) chief stitched a new alliance with the BJP, which had been smarting under its humiliating defeat in the Assembly polls. The grand alliance, of which the RJD is the largest constituent, was left truncated and it suffered setbacks like former State Congress president Ashok Choudhary joining the JD(U) along with his supporters. It received a shot in the arm recently with the RLSP, a former NDA ally, joining the alliance. Read more posts… Monday, 24 December 2018 | PNS | New Delhi–

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