Two NDA constituents, the LJP and the RLSP, have made it clear that the number of seats they wanted to contest for the next Lok Sabha election was the same as that of 2014.
A speculation had been rife that the BJP and the JD(U) could field candidates on 34 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, leaving the rest to Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).
Bharatiya Janata Party has not yet announced a seat-sharing deal in Bihar for 2019 polls, but has said it will contest an equal number of seats as the JD(U). This means the BJP will have to let go of several seats where it won five years ago. Partnering with the LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party of Upendra Kushwaha in 2014, the BJP won 22 out of 30 seats it contested in 2014. The LJP won six out of seven seats and the RLSP won all three seats it contested, making the Bihar polls a virtual rout by the NDA.
His colleague Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP had contested and won three seats.
LJP's Bihar unit chief Pashupati Paras, a state minister, dismissed as "kite-flying" the rumours that his party and the RLSP were likely to make 'sacrifices' in the wake of BJP president Amit Shah and JD(U) supremo and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar agreeing to contest an equal number of seats in the state.
Kushwaha has taken affront to the remark, claiming that Kumar, who is his erstwhile mentor, had in effect called him a lowly person and had taunted him for having joined hands with the BJP again, after taking umbrage over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s caustic remark about his political DNA during the 2015 assembly election
"No seat-sharing talks will be complete until national presidents of all the four NDA alliance partners - BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP - sit together. That is yet to happen. All that is appearing in the media is hawa hawai (kite flying)", said Paras, the younger brother of Paswan.
In reply to a query, he said, "Obviously we would like to contest from at least seven seats. We had won six of the seven from which we had contested last time, and lost one by a slender margin of 7,000 votes.
"Our graph has not gone down since the last Lok Sabha poll and there is no reason why we should not get our due share."
Asked about the agreement Shah and Kumar reached, he said it indicates "nothing".
"The 50-50 formula could mean anything. It could even imply that the BJP and the JD(U) would be fighting only 10 each, leaving the remaining 20 for other allies," he added.
The RLSP insisted that it would not accept a share of less than three seats.
Madhaw Anand, the party's national general secretary and spokesman, said, "There is no question of our agreeing to less than three seats. In fact, Kushwaha has conveyed the same to the BJP national secretary general in-charge of Bihar, Bhupendra Yadav, in person and to Shah over telephone".
Kushwaha had met RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav at a Bihar town, minutes after Shah and Kumar announced in Delhi that they have reached a seat-sharing arrangement, fuelling speculation of a political realignment in the state.
The RLSP chief, who is known to have been sharing an uneasy relationship with Kumar, has maintained that he is firmly with the NDA even as Tejashwi Yadav said there was a standing invitation to the party to join the Grand Alliance.
Relations between Kushwaha and Kumar soured recently after the chief minister remarked that speaking about the dispute over seat-sharing with the RLSP was tantamount to lowering the standard of discourse.
Kushwaha has taken affront to the remark, claiming that Kumar, who is his erstwhile mentor, had in effect called him a lowly person and had taunted him for having joined hands with the BJP again, after taking umbrage over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's caustic remark about his political DNA during the 2015 assembly election.
with PTI inputs.