PATNA: Senior BJP leader CP Thakur on Tuesday heightened the worries of the saffron party’s allies in Bihar by categorically saying that his party plans to contest for the largest number of seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
“There is no denying that BJP will contest for a majority of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in the 2019 polls. This is only natural. We won 31 of these 40 seats in the 2014 polls, and BJP had won 22 of those seats,” said Thakur, a Rajya Sabha member and former Union health minister, to reporters during a meeting of BJP leaders in Patna.
With all parties in Bihar having already started preparing the ground for next year’s Lok Sabha polls, Thakur’s statement sent waves of worry in the state’s main ruling party JD(U), led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and the two other NDA partners – Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).
JD(U), which had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha polls on its own and won only two seats, allied with BJP in July last year after walking out of the grand alliance with RJD and Congress. BJP’s insistence on contesting on a majority of the total 40 seats could harm JD(U) the worst and may even cause irreparable bitterness between the two allies.
Sources close to Nitish Kumar said JD(U) wants to contest for “at least 18 seats” and that the party has already started ground-level work on those seats. “We will not agree to any number less than 18,” said a senior JD(U) leader.
Similar apprehensions have arisen in LJP, which won six seats in the 2014 LS polls. Sources said Paswan could stake claim for at least ten seats this time. Union Minister Upender Kushwaha’s RLSP, which won three seats in the last polls, may ask for at least seven seats.