NEW DELHI: In a bid to keep allies together and ensure a better strike rate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has offered to give away five seats in Bihar leaving aside 23 constituencies for NDA partners, it is reliably learnt.
The BJP, which had bagged 22 seats in 2014, will put up only 17 candidates in the 2019 elections, sources said. Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), which has an open offer from the Congress to return to the ‘grand alliance’ against the saffron party, will also contest Lok Sabha 17 seats.
According to party insiders, the BJP has also factored in the possibility of Union minister Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leaving the NDA stable.
“The basic contour of the seat adjustment among the NDA allies in Bihar is ready. In the event the RLSP quitting the NDA, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) would get six seats to defend all the constituencies the party had won in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” said a top-ranking BJP leader.
Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.
The BJP is seemingly counting on transferable vote base of the JD(U) and LJP to offset the loss in the event the RLSP bolts the NDA camp.
“Bihar CM Nitish Kumar will bring in additional vote base to the NDA camp with his support among most backward and other backward castes, besides women and Mahadalits. The social base of the BJP-JD(U)-LJP would be much more than what any grand alliance could cobble up in Bihar,” added the BJP leader.
Sources said the BJP has identified some sitting MPs in Bihar whose prospects of winning again are bleak.
“Half the sitting BJP MPs may not get re-nomination. Even those who had come second in a few of the constituencies in 2014 could be replaced with new faces. The BJP, thus, has enough space to cede to the allies for the larger gain in the state and elsewhere, as the saffron outfit will be facing the Lok Sabha elections with a strong ally,” said a senior BJP functionary, referring to the fact that in 2014, the JD(U) was not a BJP ally.
No ticket for non-performers
According to sources, the BJP has identified a handful of sitting Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar who may not make it if they contest again from their current constituencies. The saffron party is likely to put up fresh faces in lieu of legislators with poor track record. This also gives the BJP enough headroom to give more seats to allies