NDA seals Bihar seat-sharing deal for LS polls

NDA finalises seat-sharing for Bihar

Shah made the announcement in the presence of JD (U) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan. (PTI Photo)

The NDA on Sunday sealed its seat-sharing pact in Bihar for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

BJP president Amit Shah announced that his party and the Janata Dal-United will contest 17 seats each in Bihar, while Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will fight in the remaining six of the total 40.

Besides, Paswan will be sent to the Rajya Sabha as an NDA candidate at the earliest opportunity, Shah said at a joint press conference with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, son Chirag Paswan, and Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar at his residence here.

The deal was finalised by the NDA after several rounds of talks with the leaders of allies since Thursday. 

Jaitley brokers peace

Union Minister Arun Jaitley played a key role in brokering peace between his party and the LJP which had put the BJP on notice last week, asking it to finalise a formula by December 31. The final seat-sharing pact indicates a victory of sorts for both the JD(U) and the LJP, which was bargaining hard for six Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha seat for Paswan. 

Seventy-two-year-old Paswan, a Lok Sabha member from Hajipur, Bihar, and a Union minister in the Modi government, is not keen on contesting Lok Sabha polls next year owing to unfavourable health conditions.

To accommodate the JD(U), the BJP had to share five of the 22 Lok Sabha seats it had won in the 2014 general elections in Bihar.

In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the combine of BJP, LJP and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP had won a total of 31 seats, with 22 going into BJP kitty, six to LJP and three to RLSP.

The RLSP recently joined the grand alliance of Opposition after it quit the NDA following a tussle with BJP over seat-sharing.

The JD(U), which contested against the NDA in 38 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls, had won just two seats. However, in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, as an NDA partner in Bihar, it had won 20 seats. The BJP got 12.

“We will win more than 32 seats this time,” Nitish Kumar said while addressing the press conference.

Shah also exuded confidence that the NDA will win 2019 polls and form the government again at the Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

All the NDA partners in Bihar will soon decide on the distribution of Lok Sabha constituencies for fielding candidates and finalise the strategy for joint poll campaigns, he said.

Paswan thanked Shah and Jaitley for finalising “a respectable” seat-sharing pact. He also denied that there were problems between his party and the BJP over seats, saying his party had “nurtured the NDA plant” for five years under Modi’s leadership. “We will win the polls and come back to power,” he said.

Kumar said NDA’s decision to send Paswan to the Rajya Sabha was “in recognition of his long service to the nation.”

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