Lok Sabha 2019: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar ensures 16 seats for JD(U); BJP gets 17
After months of hard bargaining, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been able to wrangle a “respectable” chunk of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. JD(U) will get 16 seats, just one less than the BJP
After months of hard bargaining and speculation, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been able to wrangle a "respectable" chunk of Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats. According to sources, JD(U) will get 16 seats, just one less than the BJP, The other NDA allies in the state, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP will get five seats and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP will get two seats.
Sources said the deal was sealed in Delhi on the second week of September between Prime Minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and the Bihar Chief Minister, who continued to keep up a steady pressure on the larger ally.
A formal announcement is likely to be made this week, said sources. The BJP had been waiting for a nod from the other allies. There has also been the question of a contingency plan in case Upendra Kushwaha, seen as a restive ally, decides to walk out. The two seats earmarked for him will be evenly divided between the BJP and the JD(U), sources said.
The BJP has taken the biggest hit - yielding five of the 22 seats it currently holds. Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha's parties also have to lose one seat each from the number they currently have in Parliament.
According to sources, JD(U) will get 16 seats, just one less than the BJP, The other NDA allies in the state, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP will get five seats and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP will get two seats.
Earlier in September, Nitish Kumar had indicated that a respectable agreement had been made which will be announced officially. This is despite JD(U) having won only two seats when it had walked out of the 13-year-old alliance with BJP in 2013. All the parties in NDA from Bihar has had reduce their existing number of seats to accommodate Nitish Kumar, whose party won only two seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
According to sources, Kumar refused to compromise and yield when BJP initially came up with a draft plan two months ago, giving themselves a the major share of 22 seats. They held out for what they called a more "equitable" distribution.
BJP has tasted defeat in 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections. In 2019, BJP cannot afford to antagonise Nitish Kumar when most of the allies have deserted the BJP.
However, most BJP leaders refused to come on record. “We have not been briefed as yet. If something has been finalised among the top leaders of NDA constituents one cannot say much,” said a BJP leader.
A few senior BJP leaders said the figures could change because RLSP has been hinting about its departure from NDA. But, that might not bother JD(U) or BJP leaders as his exit would hardly affect the broader formula for seat-sharing. One has to wait and watch whether or not Upendra Kushwaha walks out of the NDA as he is being offered 2 seats.
In June itself, Bihar's opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav had issued an open invitation to Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha to quit the NDA and join hands with the opposition, which was then rejected by the latter.
Kushwaha's party wants him as the NDA's chief ministerial candidate in the next elections, pointing out that after the Yadav vote, Kushwahas comprise 10 per cent of Bihar's electorate.
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