Bihar: The seat sharing saga of JD(U)-BJP alliance
BJP and JD(U) want to gauge the mood of each other by getting fake stories on seat-sharing planted in the media for obvious political gain
Speculative stories on seat-sharing arrangement in the National Democratic Alliance are coming up in plenty in Bihar these days.
First came the news of 20:20 settlement, that is the Bharatiya Janata Party would contest half of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state while it would leave the rest for the three alliance partners.
According to this piece of news the Janata Dal (United) would get 12 seats while five and two each would be left for the Lok Janshakti Party and RashtriyaLok Samata Party respectively. The remaining one seat may go to the rebel RLSP MP from Jehanabad, Arun Kumar.
The Janata Dal (United) leadership is upset by the news and a senior party functionary, without wishing to be quoted, directly blamed a top BJP minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet for getting such stories planted in the media for obvious political gain. He said that his party would not accept anything less than 16 seats. It must be recalled that after the BJP national president Amit Shah met Nitish in Patna on July 12, JD(U) sources had claimed that the party would get 16 seats, while the BJP will contest on 15. The rest nine would be divided between LJP and RLSP––six and three respectively. However, the sources had then hastened to add that the figure was not final.
JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi too expressed his ignorance about any finalisation of seat sharing arrangement.
Though the JD(U) sources accuse the state BJP leaders of planting such reports in the media, the truth is that this could not have happened without the the green signal from the central leadership of the saffron party, which has always been trying toclip the wings of the chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Political observers are of the view that it is in the interest of the BJP that the three other constituents of the NDA in Bihar keep quarrelling among themselves.
However, the Janata Dal (United) sources said that the party leadership is aware of the pitfalls ahead and is engaged in walking on a tight rope. It has never reacted to any provocation from the RLSP leader and Union minister of state for human resources development Upendra Kushwaha. The party even avoided commenting on his ‘kheer’ remarks.
Analysts are of the view that the Janata Dal (United) can not afford to lose the support of Koeris at this point of time, especially after the resignation of Manju Verma from the post of social welfare minister. Verma, a Koeri, had to go after the alleged involvement of her husband in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.
Upendra Kushwaha’s party repeatedly project itself as the champion of Koeris interest.
Soon after the so-called finalisation of 20:20 formula appeared in the media another story. It started doing the rounds on August 31 evening. As per this story the Janata Dal (United) is thinking in term of contesting the next Lok Sabha election alone.
Media-watchers in Bihar are of the view that both the stories have nothing to do with reality as the talks on finalisation of seats are far from over.
Besides, one fails to fathom as to how the LJP and RLSP would agree on five and two seats respectively when they had won six and three MPs last time.
The BJP’s logic is that since it is contesting on 20––though it won 22 seats in 2014––the other two parties should also sacrifice to accomddoate JD(U). But the RLSP, in particular, is in no mood to leave anything for Nitish.
Incidentally, the two varying stories on seat sharing came after Janata Dal (United) criticised the arrest of five human rights and social activists in various parts of the country.
In fact both the BJP and JD(U) want to gauge the mood of each other by getting such news planted in the media.