Plagued with squabbling, NDA delays Bihar list

Exactly one month from now, the first phase of polling will begin in Bihar on April 11. However, the ruling combination in the State, comprising the JD(U), BJP and the LJP, has failed to declare either the candidates or the constituencies it would like to contest.

In December 2018, the national presidents of the BJP, JD(U) and LJP jointly addressed a press conference declaring that out of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, the BJP and JD(U) would contest 17 seats each, and leave the remaining six seats for Paswan’s pocket organisation.

Three months down the line, there is no word from either of the three parties about their respective lists of candidates or constituencies. 

What ails NDA?

Though leaders of the NDA claim “all is well” among its constituents, but sources say the delay in firming up the alliance (and thereby releasing the list of candidates), is due to inherent contradictions among its allies. 

For example, the BJP has reportedly made up its mind to deny Lok Sabha ticket to its most vocal member and Union Minister Giriraj Singh from Nawada (from where he made his LS debut in 2014). 

A sulking Giriraj did not attend PM Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna on March 3, although he later clarified that he was ‘indisposed’. The BJP has committed Nawada seat to its ally LJP’s Veena Devi, who is currently MP from Munger. Wife of don-turned-politician Surajbhan Singh, Veena can’t contest from Munger as Nitish is adamant that his close aide Lallan Singh should contest from Munger as a JD(U) nominee. Incidentally, all three – Giriraj, Lallan and Veena belong to the upper caste – Bhumihar, but are always at loggerheads. 

Giriraj has been offered a consolation prize with a fresh offer to contest from Begusarai from where the CPI is likely to field former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. Giriraj has not shown much interest in the new offer. 

Similarly, Nitish wants Patliputra Lok Sabha seat from where Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav of BJP is a sitting MP. Yadav had defeated Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti in 2014 in a fierce contest. But Nitish’s logic is that his candidate in 2009 polls, Ranjan Yadav, had defeated Lalu Prasad in Patliputra and, therefore, the JD(U) should be allowed to contest from the prestigious seat. 

Likewise, the LJP has not made up its mind who should contest from Hajipur, the fiefdom of Ram Vilas Paswan, from where he had been winning since 1977, barring two occasions (in 1984, 2009). Paswan has bid adieu to Lok Sabha polls and could become Rajya Sabha member soon. 

While Mahagatbandhan leaders have so far failed to reach an amicable seat-pact, the situation is no better in NDA as well.

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