Split within Bihar NDA on seat sharing; there’s more than what meets the eye
News of a deal being struck between the Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party for the next Lok Sabha poll has emerged but no one has confirmed it
When the Narendra Modi government found itself ‘encaged’ because of the war within the Central Bureau of Investigation, the news came that a deal has been struck between the Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party for the next Lok Sabha poll.
According to reports, this was finalised in the second week of September in a meeting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had with BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It was stated that the BJP candidates will contest from 17 seats, JD(U) 16, Lok Janshakti Party five and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party two.
Though the sources within two big partners of the NDA in Bihar have confirmed the news the LJP and RLSP were quick to rubbish all these “speculative stories”.
The big question is that if the agreement has actually been made six weeks ago why is it that the news was disclosed to the media now when the Union government and the ruling parties in the Centre are totally preoccupied by the crisis in the central investigative agency of the country.
On the other hand the LJP and RLSP leaders are asking as to how can the announcement of deal be made after talks between the leaders of only two parties.
RLSP sources said that in fact its leader and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha had met the BJP’s incharge of Bihar, Bhupendra Yadav, only five days back and no such issue was discussed.
While the LJP leader Pashupati Kumar Paras, brother of the party supremo Ram Vilas Paswan, told the mediapersons on October 23, that talks would be held only after Diwali and Chhath, that is in December, the RLSP sources said that their party is ready to independently contest election in Madhya Pradesh. The party is likely to field at least two dozen candidates in north Madhya Pradesh, that is near its border with Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.
This part of the state has sizeable Koeri voters which the party will like to woo. The party has recently worked hard in Bhopal, Gwalior, Morena etc. If this really happens it would be another headache for the BJP which is facing a big challenge from the Congress.
While Paras, a minister in the Nitish cabinet, did not react sharply the RLSP sources did not mince words in blaming the chief minister party’s Janata Dal (United) for planting stories and creating confusion. One of the leaders went to the extent of alleging that Nitish is working to ensure the defeat of Modi in the next Lok Sabha poll so that he could emerge powerful once again.
A senior party leader on condition of anonymity alleged that Nitish Kumar wants to push the RLSP out of the National Democratic Alliance. “Who is he to suggest that the RLSP would get two and LJP five seats when they won three and six seats in 2014. After all it was we who came to the rescue of the BJP after Nitish betrayed it,” he said.
Observers are of the view that the finalization of the seat sharing talks would never be so smooth as the BJP and JD(U) wish it to be
Independent political analysts see a design in the frequent appearance of stories on deal between the BJP and JD(U) when the situation is so fluid in the country. If the purpose is to distract the attention of the people from other burning issues such stories are not going to serve the purpose. This is the common refrain in the political circle.
If the BJP will really contest 17 seats it will be sacrificing five as last time it won 22 seats.
With sitting MP of Begusarai Bhola Singh dying on October 19, and Patna Saheb and Darbhanga members of Parliament Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad likely to be denied ticket by the saffron party there is some likelihood that these seats would be left for JD(U).
Rumours are also doing the rounds that the Nawada MP and another Union minister Giriraj Singh is likely to be inducted into the Nitish cabinet as the second deputy CM, apart from Sushil Kumar Modi.
The BJP wants to send Giriraj to Bihar ahead of the Lok Sabha poll as he has a hardline Hindutva image. Besides, he is a Bhumihar, the caste which is in the forefront against the SC, ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989.
In that case Nawada too may be left for JD(U). But the JD(U) sources deny that there is any such plan to induct Giriraj, otherwise a vocal critic of Nitish.
On the other hand two of the six sitting LJP MPs are most likely to leave the party and cross over to the Congress. They are Mehboob Ali Qaiser and Veena Devi. Congress is likely to field them from Khagaria and Nawada respectively.
If this really happens it will certainly help the JD(U) in cutting the number of LJP ticket from six to five.
Similarly, one of the three sitting MPs of RLSP, Arun Kumar (from Jehanabad), has revolted from the party. The JD(U) can throw its door open for him as he is a Bhumihar, and would thus be a suitable candidate from Jehanabad.
Observers are of the view that the finalization of the seat sharing talks would never be so smooth as the BJP and JD(U) wish it to be.